Faculty Profile: Julie Walton

Dr. Julie Walton, professor of kinesiology, jokes that she landed her position at Calvin because she started hearing voices—or more accurately, one particular Voice.

After finishing her PhD in exercise physiology, Professor Walton was working with the cardiology department at Spectrum Health when a voice in her head prompted, “Call Calvin College.”

Although she had heard of Calvin, she knew next to nothing about it. “When I went to college, I wasn’t a Christian yet, so it didn’t even occur to me that you could integrate faith and learning,” she said.

But the quiet voice continued its urging through the week, so she sent Calvin an e-mail inquiring about openings. “In a week’s time, I was interviewed and offered a position teaching exercise science,” she recalled.

Now more than 12 years into her teaching career, the voices she hears are often those of her students. In addition to teaching exercise science and nutrition courses, and working in the human performance lab, and serving, with Professor Nancy Meyer, as pre-physical therapy adviser, she regularly eats with students—for enjoyment and sharing, of course, but also for her research.

“Eating together around a table is a simple practice with a host of embedded Christian practices like prayer, testimony and hospitality. For a few precious minutes we become fully present to one another in ways a classroom or technology environment can’t provide.” The results of her recent pedagogical research are clear: “Relationships between students and faculty are significantly improved by sharing just two meals together in a semester.”

VERGE: fall 2011

First-Year Experience