In 1989, Tyler Amidon ’93 flew from California to Michigan to meet with Calvin’s baseball coach, Jeff Pettinga ’63. Tyler was 18, the MVP of his high school team, and in his own words “kind of a knucklehead.” But five minutes into the conversation with Jeff, the Lord started talking to Tyler.
Tyler knew that Jeff—Tyler still calls him Coach—would be an incredible mentor. Jeff’s competitiveness, gentleness, and work ethic resonated deeply with Tyler. He came to Calvin, and Jeff poured into Tyler, loving and challenging him. His life was changed in profound ways. “I am the way I am because of the impact that Coach had on me,” Tyler told me from his office at Denver Christian Middle School.
In fact, to honor the difference Coach made, Tyler and his wife named their son Jeff. And that Jeff is now a student at Calvin, experiencing the same life-changing education.
I love Tyler’s story. I hear some version of this story again and again from alumni. It might be a chemistry professor who spent countless hours with an alumnus in the lab. Or the theater production that shaped an alumna because the director recognized a certain gift.
Inevitably, alumni share how those interactions with professors shaped the rest of their lives, even if they didn’t know it at that time.
Calvin has always placed a high value on faculty pursuing academic interests and remaining directly invested in students. Many academic institutions pick one over the other—not Calvin. Although each faculty member has his or her own reasons why they teach, all value the ability to be both scholars and teachers. Faculty are rewarded with the joy of seeing discovery through their students’ eyes or observing the learning process unfold over four years.
No doubt, the world around us is changing, but it always has. True to being Reformed, Calvin changes too—or “reimagines,” as we like to say. One thing I can tell you, though: Our faculty are still deeply committed to Jesus Christ and making a lasting impact on the lives of their students. I trust you’ll enjoy some of their stories in this issue.
The Calvin community is also celebrating a milestone event in the life of a professor at heart, Dr. Michael Le Roy. After 10 years as president, his time at Calvin is coming to a close. Dr. Le Roy began his professional career in the classroom as a political science professor. As so many of us have observed, the Le Roys’ hearts, passion and joy centered around making a difference in the lives of Calvin students. Thank you, Dr. and Mrs. Le Roy, for your service to our students and to all of Calvin University. We are deeply grateful.