Calvin University’s board of trustees announced the appointment of Wiebe Boer as the university’s 11th president March 28. Calvin, in Grand Rapids, Mich., is an institution of the Christian Reformed Church. Boer will assume the title from current president Michael Le Roy this summer. Le Roy announced last year that the 2021-2022 academic year would be his final year.
“Wiebe’s love for God and relationship with Jesus was comprehensively evident in every aspect of the search process, underscoring what his life journey has demonstrated,” said Mary Tuuk Kuras, vice chair of the board of trustees and chair of the search committee. Boer’s academic grounding, diverse experience in the private and social sectors, his passion for social justice and collaboration, and his understanding of Calvin’s past and goals for Calvin’s future all led to the committee’s unanimous recommendation, she said. The search team was aided by AGB Search, a recognized consultant for higher education.
Boer holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree from Calvin, both in history. He also studied political science for a year at the University of Jos in Nigeria. This is his first academic administrative appointment. His leadership experience in various sectors includes executive roles with Boston Consulting Group in Lagos, Heirs Holding Group, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, McKinsey and Company, and World Vision. Since 2017, Boer has served as chief executive officer of Shell-All On, a renewable energy investment company. Boer said his goals for Calvin include strengthening relationships with the CRCNA as well as diversifying and globalizing the school, attracting different populations and engaging students from Reformed communities from around the world, both physically on campus and digitally through online education.
The board recognized in Boer's wide-ranging experience a perspective that could uniquely address current challenges in higher education.
“Higher education is in the process of being disrupted, and I think the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated that. How can we not only keep up with this but get ahead and create an institution that can deliver knowledge in multiple ways?” Boer asked. “By 2030, I hope to see Calvin as the global leader of Reformed Calvinist higher education and that it is clearly ranked in the top 10 of Christian universities in the United States,” he said.
Boer spoke to The Banner of his personal connection to Calvin, recalling his great-great-grandfather's cousin, Geert Boer, whom the CRC's General Assembly (now synod) in 1876 called to be the first full-time theological instructor of what became Calvin Theological Seminary. Wiebe Boer’s parents, whose own families had immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands post-World War II, met at Calvin. They worked with CRC World Missions (now part of Resonate Global Mission) for 30 years. Boer was born in Jos and attended Calvin College, graduating in 1997. (The school became a university in 2019.)
“It’s a real honor to now take up this role that is so integral to the church because it has been a part of my life, even from before I was born,” Boer said. “I grew up on the mission field, and now I am taking that global experience back to Calvin. It’s like taking it full circle.”
Boer is married to Joanna, a 2003 Calvin graduate. They have four sons. His official inauguration will take place in the fall of 2022. This presidential appointment is the first to be made by Calvin’s board of trustees instead of by the CRC’s synod, after bylaw changes were approved by the CRC’s Council of Delegates last year.
Boer was made available to speak about his appointment and did not comment on recent issues at Calvin including petitions about sexual ethics policies. His interview with The Banner occured before news broke of an appeal by a professor whose reappointment is not being sustained.