Shirley Hoogstra apologizes to faculty for financial situation

Shirley Hoogstra, vice president for student life and member of the president’s cabinet, apologized to faculty for her role in Calvin’s fiscal problems Monday night, saying that she should have been a better leader and that this experience has humbled her.

“I have been asking myself over and over what could I have seen, what question could I have asked,” said Hoogstra at the faculty senate meeting. “I wish I had known how to detect the problems that were happening.”

Provost and cabinet member Claudia Beversluis said the personal apology was well received by all she talked to.

“It was an honest and authentic comment spoken from her heart,” said Beversluis.

Hoogstra served on Calvin College’s Board of Trustees from 1995-99 and has been vice president for student life since 1999. Hoogstra is Calvin’s longest-serving sitting cabinet member, after the departure of Henry DeVries in November 2012.

This is the first public apology made by a cabinet member since the college’s financial challenges came to light last fall.

Hoogstra said that the only thing she can do is learn from the experience.

“I am humbled by it, and I am regretful. And when you make mistakes or don’t perform as well as you thought, the only thing you can do is ask how can I learn and what can I do better.”

Cabinet member Russ Bloem shared some of Hoogstra’s sentiments.

“I have also given a lot of thought on how this decision came to be, what, if anything, I could have done differently, and what I have learned from how this has evolved,” he said.

Beversluis agreed that the whole of cabinet has been trying to learn from the experience of the last couple years, while also “acknowledging that it’s pretty hard to know what you don’t know.”

“Failure is painful but an excellent teacher,” said Hoogstra. “And I pledge to work harder and hopefully wiser than ever.”

Additional reporting by Ryan Struyk, online editor.