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Calvin President Speaks of Enrollment Growth, Seeking More CRCNA Students

We need your help to make Calvin the school of choice for our students of this denomination.
—Wiebe Boer, Calvin University president
Steven Herppich

Calvin University president Wiebe Boer, who had greeted the Christian Reformed Church’s Synod 2023 briefly earlier in synod’s proceedings, shared a full address Wednesday morning (June 14). Boer shared the highlights of the past academic year as well as challenges facing the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based university.

“We are your university. This is your campus,” Boer repeated to synod delegates.

Calvin provided instruction to about 3,200 undergraduate students and more than 300 graduate students during the 2022-23 academic year. In addition, the university provided additional instruction to 90 prisoners through the Calvin Prison Initiative and 20 students with special needs through its Ready for Life program, Boer said.

“Lives are being transformed here. Learners are knowing God in the world in greater ways because of Calvin University. Alumni are going on to graduate schools, seminaries, to companies and organizations around the world, ready to excel as Christian graduate students and professionals, grounded in the rigorous Christ-centered learning, faith formation and character development that happens at Calvin, year after year,” Boer said.

Boer was excited to report that applications for admission for the 2023-24 freshman class are running at record levels, with more than 4,500 applications processed by Calvin’s admission team. The university has received applications from students representing more than 90 countries, another all-time high, Boer said.

“We are on a very positive trajectory,” he said.

One concern raised by Boer is the decline in the percentage of CRC college-age students choosing to attend Calvin. Less than 30 percent of the university’s students this past year were from the denomination, and only 13 percent of CRC college-age students currently go to Calvin. Boer encouraged delegates to do their part to encourage more young people in their churches to consider Calvin for their post-secondary education.

“We really do need your help and your support in making Calvin the school of choice for our students of this denomination,” Boer said.

Calvin is moving ahead with several building projects in the upcoming year, including an ongoing renovation of the School of Health building, the launching of construction of the school’s new soccer stadium and outdoor track and field facility, and renovation of the Hekman Library. 

The university also soon will launch construction of the football stadium that will greet the Knights when they begin intercollegiate competition in the sport in the fall of 2024. Boer introduced Trent Figg, Calvin’s first head football coach.

“They are going to build an absolutely amazing, winning team. So far, Calvin is undefeated in football,” Boer said, drawing a few laughs from delegates. He noted one of the team’s first student players is the son of the synod vice-president, Henry Steenwyk.

Some of Calvin’s other initiatives moving forward include continuing to attract a diverse student population and faculty—“in one year, we’ve almost doubled our faculty of color,” Boer said—as well as developing a green energy strategy and improving ties with other CRCNA ministries such as Resonate Global Mission and World Renew. Boer introduced Nygil Likely, who took over as the college’s chief diversity officer earlier this month, following the retirement of previous director Michelle Loyd-Paige.

Synod 2023 is meeting June 9-15 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Find daily coverage from The Banner news team at Visit for the synod schedule, webcast, recordings, photos, committee reports, and liveblog. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church.

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