Coordinates: 42°55′49″N 85°35′17″W / 42.93028°N 85.58806°W / 42.93028; -85.58806
Calvin College is a liberal arts college located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1876, Calvin College is an educational institution of the Christian Reformed Church and stands in the Reformed tradition of Protestantism. Calvin College is named after John Calvin, the 16th century Protestant Reformer.
The Christian Reformed Church in North America founded the school on August 4, 1876, as part of Calvin College and Theological Seminary (with the seminary becoming Calvin Theological Seminary) to train church ministers. It began with seven students enrolled in the first year. The original location was on Spring Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The initial six-year curriculum included four years of literary studies and two years of theology. In 1892, the campus was moved to the intersection of Madison Avenue and Franklin Street (Fifth Avenue) in Grand Rapids. In September 1894, the school expanded the curriculum for those who were not pre-theological students, making the institution in effect a preparatory school. In 1900, the curriculum further broadened, making it more attractive to students interested in teaching or preparing for preprofessional courses at universities. A year later Calvin admitted the first women to the school.
In 1906, the literary department of the college became known as John Calvin Junior College and the college held its first commencement. The student newspaper Chimes was first published in 1907. Around 1910, the West Michigan cities of Muskegon and Kalamazoo fought to have Calvin relocate to their respective cities. Muskegon offered US$10,000 (approximately $250,000 in 2007 dollars) and a tract of land to attract the college. The city of Grand Rapids countered with its own $10,000 offer and the junior college chose to stay in Grand Rapids. The two-year college in time became a four-year college, and the preparatory department was discontinued. John Calvin Junior College moved in 1917 to the Franklin Street Campus which at the time was the south east edge of Grand Rapids. Two years later the college appointed its first president, the Rev. J.J. Hiemenga. Then a year later, in 1920, the college transitioned into a four year college following the liberal arts philosophy of the Free University in Amsterdam as laid out by Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper. The next year the college awarded its first bachelor's degree. In 1924, with the opening of Grand Rapids Christian High School, the college offered its last year of preparatory education, focusing exclusively on higher education and opened its first dormitory. The next year, the college began offering a teacher training program and in 1926 appointed its first female faculty member, Johanna Timmer, as Dean of Women. The college dedicated its library, the Hekman Library on March 8, 1928. The college later dedicated its seminary building at the Franklin Street Campus on October 29, 1930. Still under the leadership of Rev. Hiemenga the college faced significant trouble during the onset of the Great Depression as financial hardship beset the college.
Although the school grew slowly in its early years, by 1930 it had reached its pre-World War I size of 350-450 students. By 1950 the enrollment had climbed to 1,270, this same year the college joined the M.I.A.A.. During this period, the college experienced severe space limitations at the land-locked Franklin Campus as enrollment continued to climb. Also at this time of growth, William Spoelhoef became president of Calvin. At the Franklin campus, the college was located on one large city block. In 1956, the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church authorized the college to purchase the Knollcrest Farm from J.C. Miller for $400,000 (approximately $2.9 million in 2007 dollars). Originally outside of town in the southeast of Grand Rapids, the Knollcrest farm increased Calvin's campus from approximately one large city block to 390 acres (1.6 km²) with a 100 acres (0.4 km²) nature preserve. Many were reticent about the project and the college's ability to finance it. Under the bold leadership of President Spoelhof, the college made plans to move forward. The Theological Seminary, since it did not need to be in close proximity to the college, built a new academic building on the site and began holding classes there in 1960. As space constraints became more noticeable, the college built its first academic building on the Knollcrest Campus and held classes there in 1962. For the next 10 years, the college continued to operate at both the Knollcrest and Franklin campuses, fully transitioning to the Knollcrest Campus in 1973. During the latter decades of the 20th century, Calvin grew to around 4,200 students, where the enrollment has remained since. In 1991, the Seminary and the College established separate boards of trustees.
At the turn of the millennium, with enrollment over 4,000 students, Calvin began several new construction projects. Among these were a new communications and political science building, a conference center and hotel. In 2006, Calvin announced an expansion of the Fieldhouse which was completed in the spring of 2009. Shortly after, in 2010, Calvin completed an extensive renovation and expansion of the Fine Arts Center, thereafter rededicated as the Covenant Fine Arts Center.
The curriculum has expanded to include professional training in a variety of fields, but the college maintains a strong commitment to a liberal arts curriculum, which the college views as a means to develop students' understanding of God's world and their place in it.
The school made national headlines in 2005 when US President George W. Bush served as commencement speaker. According to the Washington Post, more than 800 faculty members, alumni, students and friends of the school signed a full-page ad in the Grand Rapids Press, saying that Bush's policies "...violate many deeply held principles of Calvin College."
In the summer of 2008, The Capella of Calvin College, the concert choir of Calvin under the direction of professor Joel Navarro, earned two third prizes in the Mixed and Free Category at the 37th Florilege Vocal de Tours Competition in Tours, France.
In August 2009, the College's Board of Trustees issued a controversial memo to all employees that said that faculty were prohibited from teaching, writing about, or advocating on behalf of homosexuality or homosexual issues such as same-sex marriage. Many faculty members were critical of the policy and of the way it was adopted without consultation by the board. The Faculty Senate, by a vote of 36-4, asked the Board to withdraw the memo.
In June 2012, the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church of North America voted to appoint Michael K. Le Roy as the president of Calvin College, succeeding President Gaylen J. Byker. Within months of assuming office, President LeRoy disclosed that Calvin faces a major financial crisis. The college currently carries a load of $117 million in debt, which will require 9-10% of the general budget in coming years for debt servicing. 
Calvin College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Calvin offers majors or minors in 115 academic or pre-professional fields. The most popular majors are business, engineering and nursing. Calvin is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and as an institution in the Reformed tradition of Christianity, subscribes to a robust theology that produces a high regard for participating in and forming culture.
Because Calvin is a liberal arts college, it has established a core curriculum with three parts: Gateway, Competencies and Studies, and Capstone. The average student takes 45 hours of core courses in the course of a four-year degree at Calvin.
When students matriculate into Calvin, they begin their studies with a seven-week course known as Prelude. Prelude introduces students to issues of learning, identity, vocation, discernment, and awareness through discussions and presentations. Students also take Developing a Christian Mind (DCM), a first-year interim course which introduces the development of a Christian worldview and a faith-based engagement with culture.
Calvin students are required to take a number of essential classes known as Core Competencies and Core Studies. Core Competencies, such as written rhetoric, world language, and information technology, develop skills essential to success in the academic and professional worlds. Core studies courses are designed to introduce students to a variety of disciplines, providing them with a greater understanding of the world and integration of ideas essential to a well-rounded liberal arts education. Typically a number of Core Competencies and Core Studies courses will overlap with major and minor requirements.
The Capstone course, generally taken during the junior or senior year, draws together themes and concepts from the core curriculum and major area of study. This course emphasizes taking stock of what students have learned in their time at Calvin and how they can use that knowledge to engage the world and their chosen field.
In addition to engaging the world after graduation, Calvin also encourages academic exploration outside of the classroom while still studying at Calvin.
Calvin acquired the 166-acre (0.672 km2) property in the mid-1950s and began a process of turning a biologically diverse farm into a center for Christian higher education. The master plan for the site was developed in 1957 by William Beye Fyfe, an adherent of the Prairie School of architecture. Working with President Spoelhof, Fyfe came up with a set of design principles for the campus aimed to both symbolically represent and physically promote such ideals as the integration of faith and learning; integration of administration, faculty, and students; and the inter-relatedness of all the disciplines. The integration of knowledge is symbolized in the arrangement of the academic buildings. Unlike many college campuses which feature an impressive structure, like a chapel, tower, or administrative hall, at the center of campus, Calvin has no such building. The major buildings on campus all form a great circle around the Commons Lawn. The lawn was intended and serves as the common point of interaction between faculty, students, and administration. Following the ideal of an integrated community, all of the buildings serve a variety of purposes. Administration is mixed with classrooms, faculty offices and lecture halls. The departments are not sequestered apart from other departments by residing in separate buildings; instead many departments share facilities to encourage the solidarity of purpose and unity contributing to a strong inter-departmental character and strong Christian community.
Calvin has nine academic buildings on campus.
The first to be constructed was Hiemenga Hall, named after John Hiemenga and built in 1961. Hiemenga Hall houses numerous academic departments including modern languages, history, philosophy, classical languages, gender studies, and religion. The building also houses the Honors Program office, Student Academic Services as well as other programs and offices. It is connected to the campus chapel and the Spoelhof Center via underground tunnels.
The Spoelhof Center, named after president emeritus William Spoelhof, houses the art, education, social work and sociology departments, the Office of the President, and several other administrative departments. The Gezon Auditorium is also housed in the Spoelhof Center. Dedicated in 1974, the Gezon Auditorium primarily serves as the main stage for the Calvin Theatre Company. Like the CFAC, it has flexible lighting and sound systems and serves as a venue for concerts, lectures and other events. The Spoelhof Center connects to the Science Building and Hiemenga Hall via underground tunnels.
The Science Building houses many of the science departments at Calvin, including engineering, physics, astronomy, psychology and nursing. The building also features an impressive observatory for an undergraduate college. When there are favorable skies, the observatory is open to the public on most weeknights. The Science Building is also distinctive for having been designed in the shape of a hexagon, emulating the benzene ring. In 2009, it was the backdrop for scenes of the film The Genesis Code.
Constructed in 1998, DeVries Hall houses classrooms, faculty offices, research labs and a greenhouse. In addition to the biology and chemistry departments, the building houses the West Michigan Regional Lab, a consortium between the college and local hospital, Spectrum Health.
Attached to DeVries Hall and the Science Building is North Hall, which houses several departments including economics, business, geology, geography, environmental studies, computer science, and mathematics.
To the west of North Hall is the Engineering Building which consists of the Prince Engineering Design Center and the Vermeer Engineering Projects Center. The Engineering Building was constructed in 1999 and houses faculty and student research facilities, metal and wood shops, a wind tunnel, a three-dimensional printer, and an anechoic chamber.
The Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex, located on the north end of campus, houses a number of classrooms and houses the Kinesiology department. The fieldhouse underwent a major renovation and expansion in 2009.
The Covenant Fine Arts Center is one of the most recognizable buildings on campus, given its giant heptagon shape. Designed around the central auditorium, which seats 1,011, the CFAC houses the Music and English departments. The CFAC auditorium is the preeminent musical performance space on campus featuring exceptional acoustics. At the back of the stage is the 39 rank, 32 stop mechanical action organ built by Schlicker Organ Company in 1966. Since its opening, the CFAC has hosted over 18,000 events. The auditorium is designed for versatility and is equipped with acoustical curtains, shifting acoustic deflection panels, a stage lift, and three catwalks. The building was closed for 2009-2010 for extensive remodeling.
In 2002, the DeVos Communication Center was constructed across the East Beltline Road. The building's upper level houses department and faculty offices for both the political science and communications arts and sciences departments. Additionally, there is a suite of audiology and speech pathology classrooms and facilities including a working clinic. The lower level of the building features media production and consumption facilities such as the Bytwerk Video Theatre, an audio studio, sound stage, control room, and editing suites for audio and video production. The ground floor features classrooms, a public atrium, and a snack shop.
Beginning in 1917 with 3,500 volumes, the "library room" eventually became the modern Hekman Library now boasting over 2.1 million volumes. The collection's emphasis is on collecting works in the traditional liberal arts disciplines. The library's strongest collections are in Theology, Religion, American literature, British literature, and Philosophy.
Associated with the Hekman Library is the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies. The center is a research library specializing in John Calvin and Calvinism. With many rare items, books, manuscripts, articles and literature, the Meeter Center is acclaimed as one of the most extensive and user-friendly of all Calvin and Calvinism collections. The Meeter Center is the largest collection of Calvin materials in North America.
In terms of books, serial backfiles, and other paper materials held, Hekman Library is currently the largest private academic library in the state.
The Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex is home to the combined health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport department. In spring 2007, the college began a $50 million construction project to renovate and expand the Calvin Fieldhouse. The fieldhouse reopened in spring 2009 as the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex, the 362,000 square feet (33,600 m2) facility includes a new 5,000 seat arena (Van Noord Arena) which is currently the largest arena in a Division 3 school, an Olympic-regulation swimming pool (Venema Aquatic Center) which seats about 550, a tennis and track center (Huizenga Center) containing 4 tennis courts and a 200 meter track, 14,000 square feet (1,300 m2) of weight training rooms and a custom made rock climbing wall. The Hoogenboom Health and Recreation Center contains the original renovated gym that is now used for basketball, volleyball, PE classes, intramurals, and many concerts. The Hoogenboom Center also has two dance studios as well as racket ball courts and exercise science laboratories.
Though always part of the master plan, the Chapel was not built until the late 1980s. The chapel holds daily services in a protected time slot to ensure that all students and faculty members are able to attend the 20 minute worship services if they so choose. Chapel services follow a weekly rhythm and each day of the week has a different theme (Grow, Pray, Testify, Rest, and Sing).
Designed by GMB Architects, the chapel sits at the highest point of the academic circle and its spire rises above all of the academic buildings. Shaped as an octagon, with seating in the round, the Chapel offers exceptional acoustics for both instrumental and vocal music, in addition to the spoken word. The Chapel also features a large organ built by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders. The three manual instrument features mechanical key action with a detached console. The facade pipes, made of 75% burnished tin, conceal some 2,500 pipes. In addition to the sanctuary, the Chapel has small prayer rooms, meeting spaces, a kitchen, theatre storage and rehearsal spaces.
A tunnel system connecting to the Spoelhof Center creates an outdoor plaza at ground level and the multi-use Lab Theatre below. The Lab Theatre is a blackbox theatre built in 1988 as a part of the chapel building project.
The Bunker Interpretive Center is a home base for formal programs and an educational resource for the approximately 5,000 casual visitors that the Calvin College Nature Preserve receives annually. The Bunker Interpretive Center is Gold LEED certified.
Calvin has seven residence halls on campus which house the majority of the freshmen and sophomore classes. One of the most notable events put on by residence life is "Chaos Day", during which the residents of each of the halls have their own theme, decorate their dorm, and dress in costumes to compete in a number of relay races and similar games. Floor Serenades, when one floor goes around campus singing songs to other floors, and Floor Dates, when two or more floors plan an activity together in order to meet new people, are common occurrences on campus.
Calvin has over 70 student organizations on campus which provide students with opportunities for involvement as well as leadership development.
Some of the most popular student organizations include Dance Guild, a group that plans a biannual dance show, and Airband, a group that plans an annual lip-sync competition.
Media production groups like Chimes, Dialogue, and Prism are also popular 
Many pre-career organizations on the campus are student chapters of national societies, including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Architecture Club (AIAS), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), National Student Speech, Language, and Hearing Association, Nurses Christian Fellowship (part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship), Student Association for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Others are formed based only on the interests of students in a specific field, including Abstraction (computer science), the Calvin Student Nursing Association, Calvin Business Forum, Calvin Entrepreneurship Club, Econ Club, Organization of Student Social Workers, Pre-Dental Club, Pre-Medical Club, Pre-Veterinary Medicine Society, Society for the Promotion of Education (SPEC), SPQR: The Classics Club, and the Philosophy Symposium.
Other clubs are devoted to athletic activities, especially those not played at a division level on campus. These include the Calvin Rugby Union (men and women), Calvin Crew, Calvin Equestrian Club, Calvin Running Club, Calvin Volleyball Club, Friday Night Soccer, Student Martial Arts Club, Calvin Ultimate (2008 Div. III 11th place national finishers), Calvin College Sailing Team, Ballroom Dance, and Calvin Break Dancing Club.
There are both a Calvin College Conservatives group as well as a Calvin College Democrats group on campus, as well as other groups of political nature including Model UN: Calvin College, the Social Justice Coalition, and Amnesty International. Along with these are groups focused on international awareness and involvement, including the International Student Association Committee, Engineers Without Borders, Korean Students Association, Middle East Club, Global Business Brigades, Mu Kappa, and the International Reconciliation Organization.
Additional organizations include those focused on environmental health and sustainability (Renewable Energy Organization, Environmental Stewardship Coalition, Agricultural Engagement Club), faith-related organizations (Bible Bonanza, University Christian Outreach, Theology Forum), and those related to arts and entertainment activities (Anime Club, Calvin Tabletop Role-playing Guild, Chess Club, Storytelling Guild, SWAT:Spontaneous Wits Attesting Truth, Visual Arts Guild).
The Student Activities Office at Calvin plans and hosts many films, concerts, and lectures aimed to foster cultural engagement and discernment in a Christian context. The Student Activities Office shows a wide variety of popular and lesser-known films throughout the year. Admission to these films, hosted in the Covenant Fine Arts Center, is $1.
Calvin is also notable for its extensive concert series. Before each concert, Calvin hosts a question and answer session with students and the artist. These sessions are meant to give artists a way to converse with students about their music and art. Since 2005, Calvin has hosted a variety of acts including:
Because of its extensive and varied concert series, the Student Activities Office has faced controversy over the years. In September 2010, the college canceled a concert by Canadian indie rock band, The New Pornographers. According to an official statement released by Calvin, the concert was cancelled after several complaints were made due to the band's name referring to pornography. Fun.'s advocacy of marriage equality when Calvin hosted them in 2012 was also met with significant controversy.
As of 2013[update], Calvin College has approximately 4,000 undergraduate students, 54% female and 46% male. The average class size is 22, and there is an 11:1 student/faculty ratio. Michigan students comprise 48% of the student body, 35.5% of students are from other states, and 10% of students are from other countries. Students come from a variety of academic backgrounds: 54% attended private high schools, 45% attended public high schools, and 1% were homeschooled. The college has an 86% retention rate from first to second year (compared to 70% nationally) and a 77% six year graduation rate (compared to 57% nationally). 305 full-time faculty teach at the college and over 82% have the terminal degree in their field.
The middle 50% of incoming first year students at the college have a GPA (4.0 scale) between 3.45 and 3.95, an ACT composite score between 24 and 30, and a SAT Critical Reading and Math score between 1080 and 1330.
Tuition is currently $28,025, room and board is $9,335, and yearly fees are about $225. Approximately 92% of students receive some sort of financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, or loans, and more than 85% of first-year students receive academic scholarships. The average financial aid package is $17,500.
Calvin College fields ten men's and ten women's intercollegiate teams and several club sports, known as the Calvin Knights.
Students at Calvin publish a weekly student newspaper, Chimes, and a monthly journal of arts and letters commentary, Dialogue. A yearbook, Prism, is also published for each school year. Student filmmakers have also made many short films and videos, like the popular Lipdub at Calvin College and the super-low-budget adaptation of Homer's Iliad, Meynin, both in 2010.
The school distributes Knightfile, a seasonal magazine on sports at the college, Uncompressed, a cultural discussion publication, and Spark, a magazine for alumni and friends.
Calvin College exerts its right under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to discriminate on the basis of religious criteria in its hiring, personnel practices and admissions. Among other things, this means that faculty members are required to be church members and that "sexual activity belongs exclusively within the covenant of (heterosexual) marriage."  The policy proscribing same-sex activity by personnel has led to Calvin College's employment advertisements being flagged as discriminatory by the American Philosophical Association.
According to a Princeton Review report (in which students at 377 colleges rated their own colleges), Calvin College is ranked 8th most LGBT-unfriendly. In response to Calvin's continual high "LGBT unfriendly" ranking on the Princeton list, a group of alumni circulated a petition in October 2012, calling for a Calvin culture more welcoming to LGBT students. Shirley Hoogstra, vice president for student life at Calvin, said that, while she believes the Princeton rankings don't reflect some of the college's initiatives, "being on that list undercuts the Christian virtue" of "hospitality." She said that presently "there's a culture of quietness around topics of LGBT issues" that may make a "person impacted feel less than welcome." She said that her goal is to promote dialogue on the issue.
Calvin has multiple alumni groups, including Knights for Life (K4L), an alumni group for current students, River City Improv, Calvin's alumni improv team, and an alumni choir, alumni orchestra, and alumni theater company.
The Festival of Faith and Music is a biennial event exploring the intersection of Christian faith and popular music. It is in some ways a child of the Festival of Faith and Writing that has been taking place at the same institution since the early 1990s, and the two events alternate years, but it is organized independently of that event by the Student Activities Office.
Starting out with two small events in 2003 and 2005 (each with 150-200 attendees), the festival grew dramatically and tickets for the 2007 event (over 1000) sold out in advance, due in part to the heightened profile of its headline acts and in part growing word of mouth.