This is the hardest column I’ve ever had to write—and, believe me, I’ve had to write some complicated ones over the years.
Some of you may know that to address the challenging budgets facing all of higher education these days, the college recently offered a one-time early retirement incentive for employees 60 years of age and older and with at least 10 years of service to Calvin. That offer came my way.
I’m not ready to retire, not by a long shot. But after some agonizing weeks and much prayer, I decided to accept the college’s offer. Thus, June 30 will be my last day at Calvin— after 35 years of working hard to advance the important mission of this great school.
Adding my four years as a Calvin student to the years on staff, I’ve spent 39 of my 60 years on the Calvin campus. Calvin College has become a large part of who I am. The college mission and my personal mission have intertwined so that one really has become the other. Ask my wife, Loni, who marvels that someone can yell “Calvin College” at me even while viewing the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, one of the “new” seven wonders of the world and tucked into the interior of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
I can’t imagine leaving Calvin. But I am confident that God has another adventure in store for me after June 30. I ask for your prayers as I set out on a new journey.
I love Calvin College. And I want you to love it, too. Continue to pray for this place, recommend students, give money, cheer on the Knights, volunteer your talents, offer jobs and internships—help this school thrive and succeed. Calvin deserves to, because it is critically important that we continue to prepare young people to assist the Spirit in God’s grace-filled renewal effort all around the world.
I’ve probably interviewed more Calvin alumni than any other person to ask them about why they do what they do, so I know that Calvin delivers on its promise and that the world desperately needs more Calvin grads doing this amazing work.
There was that glorious blue sky at the top of the Very Large Array telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia, with Paul Vanden Bout ’61, the man responsible for that instrument’s reach into space.
Or that solemn walk through the five sections of the Pentagon with Army Chaplain Herman Keizer ’65.
Or hearing what it was like to be an African-American student on the Franklin campus of Calvin College from Jacquelyn Mabin Nickerson ’55, and holding her prized and underlined philosophy textbook.
Or learning how one catches salmon in an Alaskan river from three intrepid Calvin nurses—Anne Engbers, Jacque Greenman and Marjorie Van Kooten—all ’58 grads who drove to Anchorage to serve before Alaska was a state.
Or the afternoon I asked Tom Oppewal ’77 where the bobcats were kept at the Oatland Island Wildlife Center near Savannah, Georgia. He pointed to a tree limb just above me.
Or being inspired by ’99 grads Jason and Heather Reedyk Fader as they described their medical mission in the African country of Burundi, part of a group of young people who made a 20-year commitment to train the next generation of Burundi physicians to care for the country’s people.
Or my recent time with the young alumna featured in this issue, Morgan Davis Mansa ’07, so full of vision and ideas to provide affordable housing in Nashville, Tennessee.
This summer I’ll join them as a Calvin alumnus out in God’s world, looking for a square inch to renew.
And I’ll be doing the same Calvin cheering starting in July, but from the sidelines rather than the college playing field. Still, you can count on me any time to sing both verses of the alma mater on demand, promptly and sincerely.