When he became president of Calvin Theological Seminary in 2001, Rev. Neal Plantinga Jr. thought fundraising would be hard.
Plantinga had taught many years in the seminary and written many articles and books, including Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. He also served as the first dean of the chapel at Calvin College. Reformed theology and finding ways to express it were his foremost preoccupations.
It turns out that Plantinga, who steps down in 2012, found fundraising and meeting donors delightful. “It has been such a joy to go out and represent the seminary to our constituency,” says Plantinga.
CTS supporters he’s met have been “really interesting, resourceful people—risk takers and hard workers,” he says.
It’s also been a pleasure interacting with trustees and colleagues, especially in revamping the seminary curriculum to be more responsive to students while maintaining CTS’s rigorous Reformed character.
Getting the Bible message into a person’s heart, soul, and head defines the new approach. “We’ve made some small turns over time and have gotten some pretty dramatic results,” he said.
Plantinga graduated from Calvin College, Calvin Theological Seminary, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Before teaching, he served as a CRC pastor in Webster, N.Y. After earning his Ph.D. at Princeton, he came to CTS.
Plantinga says the next president will face challenges. Tuition revenue has been shrinking as students attend seminaries closer to home, often for financial and family reasons, although fall enrollment this year was up.
Making the faculty more ethnically and racially diverse and nurturing the new curriculum will also be challenges, he said.
Once he leaves, Plantinga hopes to write a book about biblical virtues. But his first project will be to prepare six B.B. Warfield Lectures to present at Princeton Theological Seminary in March 2012. He will also continue to preach, teach, and lecture. In addition, he plans to return to one of the great loves of his life: playing the violin.
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About the Author
Chris Meehan is a freelance writer and commissioned pastor at Coit Community Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.