While Dr. Wiebe Boer graduated from Calvin University in 1997, he’s only been back on campus in earnest since late June 2022. In honor of his recent inauguration, we asked Dr. Boer to curate a list of 12 things he discovered about Calvin during his first few months on the job. 

Here’s his list, which is meant to be representative, not exhaustive: 

1. We have a full cross-country course on our campus. I ran Cross Country back in the 90s, and at the time, our home course was off campus. Calvin’s Grand Rapids campus is located in the middle of a city, so having a full 8K (five-mile) course is a huge asset to our community. 

2. We have an Ecosystem Preserve on our campus that spans 100 acres. What other university has this? Our professors and students use this space for research, and it’s a beautiful place to get away and find respite. What a gift to Calvin and the greater west Michigan community. As a side note, we have a mini tropical rainforest inside our Science Building. I’ll probably spend part of February in there. 

3. You can find art all over this campus in all shapes and forms, from the lobby of the new state-of- the-art School of Business building to the underpass that connects the east and west sides of campus. We also have a beautiful Center Art Gallery that hosts multiple art exhibitions throughout the year. 

4. We are a global campus. Our students hail from 55 countries, 48 U.S. states, and 5 Canadian provinces. This year, a record percentage of our incoming class is joining us from outside the United States. 

5. My sons have quite a playground right in their own backyard. Calvin’s campus spans 400 acres and is complete with a 40-foot rock-climbing wall, seminary pond, underground tunnels, lots of cool-looking shiny rocks, and a space to play any and every sport imaginable. 

6. Our athletics program is second to none. Since the ’90s, we have won 10 more national championships in four different sports. In late October, five of our fall teams were ranked inside the top 25 in NCAA Division III. During Homecoming Weekend, our hockey program celebrated its (belated) 50th anniversary year. What a proud moment for me as a Canadian citizen! 

7. We are leading the way for all higher education when it comes to prison education. Calvin Prison Initiative equips adult learners in prison with the knowledge and skills to become community leaders. The five-year program currently has 95 students and has granted 45 bachelor’s degrees to date. This past fall, the undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education visited and was blown away by what CPI is doing in moral formation and prison transformation. I am, too. 

8. Our community of learners includes undergraduate, graduate, and certificate-seeking students of all ages, in-person and online. While we are committed to serving our residential undergraduate students well, we are also seeing major growth in our graduate-level programming—our online speech pathology and audiology program is one example to highlight. 

9. We hold a commitment to sustainability. In fact, during my first, full week on the job, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sun FundED to pursue solar energy solutions for Calvin. What an exciting development! 

10. Calvin University’s campus is home to some impressive facilities, from amazing art and design studios, to beautiful performing arts spaces, to what I think are the best indoor athletic facilities in all of Division III. (Our outdoor facilities will undergo a major upgrade, beginning in 2023.) And if you live in the area, you should come check out our new School of Business building. 

11. Our science building holds a world class telescope. We can remotely access another telescope located in Rehoboth, New Mexico. I hear our professors and students make some exciting discoveries with said telescopes. 

12. Alumni and friends of Calvin care deeply about our students. I have met with many donors over the past three months who, in their giving, put students first. For example, Jon and Kerrie VerLee provided a significant financial gift to help launch the Calvin Startup Garage. Jon is also gifting four years of his time as director of the venture and as an entrepreneur-in-residence. This is what investing in students looks like.