Calvin University’s de Vries Institute for Global Faculty Development, recently renamed after receiving an $11 million gift from the estates of the late Rimmer and Ruth de Vries, now has a full-time director. The university named Matthew Lundberg, professor of religion at Calvin, director in August. The announcement of the estate gift and institute renaming came in June.
Lundberg was the 2017 recipient of Calvin’s Presidential Award for Exemplary Teaching, the college’s highest faculty honor.
“His recent work includes journal articles focused on the theology of various topics, including Christian martyrdom, racism and violence, just war, ecumenism, and mass incarceration,” Calvin provost Cheryl Brandsen said.
David Smith, director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin, had served as interim coordinator for the Global Faculty Development Institute since its establishment in 2018. Lundberg will work alongside Smith at the institute during the 2020-21 academic year. Among their projects will be the development of a series of online resources on theological and practical topics related to Christian academic life, as well as the creation of a fellows program for newer faculty members at Calvin.
“Our goal is to help faculty make meaningful and authentic connections between their work and the resources, convictions, attitudes, and practices of Christian faith,” Lundberg said. “The university and (Calvin Theological) Seminary hope that this institute will have a global reach that will enable the Reformed perspectives and wisdom of Calvin to benefit others around the world, while also enabling faculty and institutions around the world to offer their wisdom to Calvin. In short, we hope to foster rich conversations about how Christian commitment matters for what faculty members do and how they do it.”
The institute had been first established—also through funding by Rimmer and Ruth de Vries—as the Kuyper Institute of Global Faculty Development, named after the Dutch theologian and prime minister Abraham Kuyper. At the time, Calvin said it was a “reimagining” of The Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology, founded by Princeton Theological Seminary in 1998. The goals of the now de Vries Institute for Global Faculty Development have not changed.
Hosting the Kuyper Conference and conferring a formerly yearly Kuyper prize will continue to remain under the institute's auspices; however, no dates have been set for the next conference/prize announcement.
Of the influx of $11 million in funding, Calvin president Michael Le Roy said, “This significant gift will enable every faculty member at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary to be trained to think deeply about the integration of faith and learning from a Reformed perspective and help our faculty implement the best practices in doing this important work.”
Specifically, the university has said the gift will enable faculty members to have release time from teaching responsibilities so they can take courses that will advance Christian understanding, provide time to develop curriculum and scholarship to enable Christian thought leadership, and offer opportunities to receive mentoring from experienced faculty peers.
About the Author
Greg Chandler is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.