Calvin College is a comprehensive 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 college and Calvin Theological Seminary were formed by the Christian Reformed Church for the purpose of training church ministers, with seven students enrolled in the first year. The school organized on August 4, 1876 on Spring Street in Grand Rapids, MI. 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 was further broadened and made 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 $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 fist 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 II 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 as enrollment continued to climb at the land-locked on the Franklin Campus. 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 $2.9million 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 Spoelhoef 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 (to be completed by the spring of 2009) .
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. While most of the community was supportive, a significant number of faculty and students protested his speaking--some in opposition to the administration's policies, while others were concerned over the politicization of the event. Some protested by wearing stickers with the phrase "God is not a Republican... or a Democrat" to the commencement. This has given Calvin a reputation for having more liberal students and faculty than most evangelical colleges.
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. This is expressed in its mission statement:
The Science Building houses many of the science departments at Calvin, including Physics, Astronomy, Psychology and Nursing. The building also features an impressive observatory for an undergraduate college. Open to the public weeknights with favorable skies, Calvin is the only institution in which new solar system object discovery is a regular assignment. The Science Building is also distinctive on campus for being designed in the shape of a hexagon, emulating the benzene ring.
Also housing science departments is DeVries Hall. Built in the mid-1990s, John "Doc" 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 and Mathematics. The college also has an Engineering building housing department offices and project design and construction centers.
The Fine Arts Center, or the "F-A-C" as it commonly called, is one of the most quickly recognized buildings on campus, given its shape as a giant heptagon. Designed around the central Auditorium, which seats 1200, the FAC houses the Music and English departments. The FAC 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 Organs in 1966. Reflecting the musical heritage of its supporting church, the Christian Reformed Church, the Music Department has a number of students who study pipe organ performance and play on four pipe instruments in the FAC. There have been an estimated 18,000 events since its opening. The auditorium is also equipped with acoustical curtains, a stage lift, three catwalks, and several separate electrics making the FAC able to handle a wide variety of events from recitals to rock shows.
The Spoelhof College Center, named after president emeritus William Spoelhof, houses the Art and Education 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, however, like the FAC, its flexible lighting and sound systems have made it an excellent venue for concerts, lectures, and a large host of other events. On the lower level of the Spoelhof Center, there is an art gallery which hosts a large variety of shows every year.
Across the beltline, the DeVos Communications Center was built in 2002. The DeVos houses the Communication and Political Science departments. It also features a movie theatre as well as a sound stage and production facilities for students and faculty to create a variety of film, television and other media programs. It also features a forum area for classes and debates, as well as a speech pathology and audiology lab.
Beginning in 1917 with 3,500 volumes, the "library room" eventually became the modern Hekman Library now boasting over 1.7 million volumes. The collection is especially devoted to collecting works in the traditional liberal arts disciplines. The strongest collections are Theology, Religion, American and British literature and Philosophy.
Associated with the Hekman Library is the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies. The Center is a research center specializing in John Calvin and Calvinism. With many rare items, books, manuscripts, articles and literature is acclaimed as one of the most extensive and user-friendly of all Calvin and Calvinism collections. Meeter Center is largest collection of Calvin materials in North America.
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. Beginning in 2008, chapel has been 'on the Move'. With 10 a.m. services in the De Vos Forum, Library Lobby, Science Building and Fish House. Chapel services follow a daily rhythm of stories of faith, prayer, preaching, global expressions of faith and the very popular Friday Hymnsing. While on average, only 500 or so students attend chapel the first four days of the week, Fridays invariably fill the chapel to its 1,000 seat capacity.
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, classrooms, 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 Lab Theatre was built during the Chapel construction project.
First Year Student Profile (middle 50% of students)
The entire Calvin student body and alumni, along with the collegiate sports teams, are known as the Knights The name is attributed to references to the "Calvin-ites" when the nascent sports teams played with no official nickname, with the first reference to the "Calvin Knights" appearing in 1926-27.
The Calvin-Hope rivalry is considered one of the most spirited in the nation. ESPN named the Hope-Calvin rivalry as #4 overall in the nation's greatest college basketball rivalries and #1 in NCAA Division III. Also see Chosing the Right College 2008-9, pg. 673. The traditional rivalry is rooted in their closely linked heritages as well as geography and continues to be one of the defining intercollegiate rivalries in Michigan.
Calvin recently announced a major renovation project to expand the existing fieldhouse facilities. In addition to the remodeling, Calvin will be building a 175,000 sq ft (16,300 m²). arena seating around 5100 spectators, a 62,000 sq ft (5,800 m²). multi-purpose track and tennis center, of cardio/weight training space, and a replaced aquatic center featuring an Olympic size swimming pool.
National Championships - NCAA Division III (8):
National Runners-up - NCAA Division III (13):
Club Sports National Championships (1):
Club Sports Websites: