Reminiscing with Calvin’s professors retiring in 2018

This year, Calvin is waving farewell to 21 retiring professors. Before they leave the campus, Chimes asked them to reminisce about their time spent teaching Calvin students. The department and the years in which they taught are listed below each name, as well as other positions they might have held and projects they were a part of.


Greg Mellema


1975-76, 1977-2018

In his years at Calvin, Mellema has valued his experience “teaching in a department with unbelievably talented colleagues, a department with a rich storied history.” He will take away “41 years of teaching awesome students in a department that is very collegial.”

He defines his time here as striving to be an excellent teacher, and working hard on writing and publishing in good journals. He will miss teaching his introductory philosophy course.


Michael Stob

Mathematics, dean for academic administration


Stob confesses that the students are the best part about teaching at Calvin.

“I’m just amazed at what my students have accomplished and I’ve always counted it as a privilege to help them along the way.”

Stob appreciated that Calvin allowed him to pursue his own research: “For an undergraduate institution that prioritizes teaching, Calvin provides tremendous support for faculty research. It’s enabled me to work in areas as diverse as mathematics logic and cognitive science with scholars from all over the world.”

He will miss his wonderful colleagues, those who are new and those who have worked alongside him for over 30 years.

“We’ve accomplished some good things together and I’ll miss working with them.”


Shirley Roels

Business, Lily Vocation Project


Roels has been rewarded in her career at Calvin by the results she has seen in working with her students.

“My students have become leaders in profit and not-for-profit organizations. Recently, a 1980s graduate, teaching in a Peruvian university, emailed that he uses ideas first learned in my course.”

While working for Calvin, Roels has appreciated the support the college extends to every faculty member in weaving Christian faith into teaching. “While such efforts are imperfect, the coherence and consistency with which the college pursues this is truly remarkable.”

Roels will miss the discussion about strategies as the college considers becoming a university within the next decade.


Randy Van Dragt


1975-76, 1981-2018

While at Calvin, Van Dragt has loved teaching field courses. Creation care has defined his work.

“At the core of my teaching, research and service to the college has been the development of the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve, of which I have been the director for 33 years. Integral to that work have been the energetic staff members, at the preserve and from across the college, who have made the preserve project possible.”

He sees the expectation and opportunity that Calvin has in examining the questions at the intersection of faith and science as what sets his experience here apart from his positions at other universities.

“I will miss the dedicated community at Calvin that is committed to pursuing, at whatever pace seems appropriate, God’s work in God’s world.”


Evert Van Der Heide



For VanDer Heide, interims with students in Europe, Brazil, Indonesia and South Korea have been the most rewarding experiences for him.

“It was fun to see students learning about different cultures and compare these new cultures with their own life experiences. It was great to get to know students on a much deeper level.”

Since first arriving at Calvin, Van der Heide has benefitted from how generous the collegehas been in giving him aid to increasy his knowledge of international economics and cultures.

“I was enabled to develop courses in Asian and emerging economies, conduct work as an economic consultant in Indonesia, and share my interests with students on the semester program in Hungary and on 12 interim courses abroad.”


James Vanden Bosch



Vanden Bosch has had many rewarding experiences over his 35 years of working at Calvin. Among his most fondly remembered is being the director of Calvin’s semester in Hungary program in the fall of 1999, as well as teaching for the Calvin Prison Initiative at the Handlon campus.

“I may have passed along some grammatical training, but they reminded me every time I taught them what intellectual hunger looked like, and of the many ways that lives of discipline and gratitude can shine and thus illuminate the world of human prospering and thriving.”

When asked what he would miss, he answered, “My colleagues, of course, but particularly the new groups of students who kept turning up in my classes every September, January, and February, year after year. I clearly still have a great deal to learn, and I hope to find such learning opportunities elsewhere.”


Rich Nyhof



Advising has been a large part of Nyhof’s role at Calvin. It is a responsibility that he has taken on with enthusiasm. He has enjoyed helping students make sense of the requirements, both of Calvin academics and of professional programs.

“I have been blessed,” confessed Nyhof, “to get to know so many wonderful students. Some have been academic superstars and others have struggled, but they have all had an effect on me and have impressed me with the depth of their characters.”

He will miss the camaraderie of the biology department faculty and staff:

“Working closely with such accomplished and caring people has kept me trying to be more like them,” said Nyhof.


Larry Louters

Chemistry and biochemistry


In his years of teaching, Louters has worked with many many students. He has enjoyed all his interactions with all the different kinds of students:

“The biggest reward for me in this job has been working with a wide variety of interesting students; great students who needed an academic challenge, weak students who needed my patience, and uninterested students who needed motivation. All of this work over all of these years was done through the eyes of faith and with great colleagues who shared in the joy and challenge of being a college professor.”

Louters hopes that for all the students that he has taught, mentored and interacted with through his work on research projects and summer camps what defines this work is that he has made a difference for some of them.

“I will miss the students,” commented Louters, “I will miss my colleagues and I will miss the environment where I was continually challenged to grow and learn.”


Gary Talsma

Mathematics and statistics


Talsma has been pleased with his own contributions to improve Calvin’s prospective mathematics teachers, and feels that has defined his time at the college. “At Calvin, there are more opportunities to explore how foundational commitments and beliefs influence the subject matter under consideration, and vice versa.”

Leaving Calvin, Talsma will miss his interactions with students and colleagues.

Those relationships, and responsibilities, helped make this the best vocation I could imagine for most of my time at Calvin.


Frank Speyers

Art and art history


Speyers will leave Calvin with many memories of his “wonderful colleagues and bright students.” He has enjoyed “being able to integrate and articulate how the presuppositions of one’s faith impact visual communications.”

His work at Calvin has been defined by raising up a generation of students who possess critical skills and understanding that enable these students to visually impact culture. Speyers said that he would miss the senate meetings after he has left Calvin.


Jan Koop

Mathematics and statistics


Koop’s work at Calvin centered around preparing students to be teachers. This has defined her work:

Hopefully I have influenced thousands of Calvin education students who are now teaching mathematics in their K-8 classrooms.

In her time at Calvin she wrote a series of eight two-year grants. These were to work with low-income school districts in Grand Rapids to help about 400 K-6 teachers better understand the mathematics they were teaching. This was a very rewarding experience for Koop.

“I really love teaching,” she said, “and I will miss the daily interaction with students.”


Ronald Sjoerdsma



In his career, Sjoerdsma has devoted four mornings of every week to spending time in K-12 classrooms to observe education students taking their first steps towards becoming accomplished teachers. Commenting on this experience, he said “their commitment, energy and talent have been humbling.”

From his time at Calvin, Sjoerdsma has learned that “life is more than just doing a job; it’s about committing oneself to service. Calvin has given the opportunity to serve both on campus and internationally in a wide variety of settings.”

He will miss the intellectual and spiritual camaraderie that he has experienced at Calvin.


David Hoekema

Philosophy, academic dean


Hoekema has introduced roughly 5,800 students to philosophy and a way of thinking about themselves, the world and God that they weren’t aware they were capable of. As an academic dean he had the opportunity to help many colleagues discern their calling and become more effective teachers and better scholars. His experience at other institutions has given him a unique perspective:

“Having taught at another church-related college and at a state university, I especially value the sense of community and shared purpose that binds the Calvin community together — something that I experienced as a student and again as a faculty member.”

Hoekema will miss his colleagues who challenged him to be a better teacher and scholar and citizen, as well as daily interactions with students.


Arie Griffioen




Joel Carpenter

Provost, history, Nagel Institute


Carpenter will take a deep satisfaction from his 10 years as provost and the work he did in advancing faculty scholarship and encouraging the college to combat issues such as racism as well as develop cross-cultural partnerships. In addition to this, he worked with the Nagel Institute to assist hundreds of Christian scholars worldwide.

“Calvin is a beautiful community,” Carpenter commented. “I love the people here like family. I love their commitment to learning, to culture making and to working for God’s way and will in the world. By God’s grace, Calvin is one of those bright stars in a dark world that the Apostle Paul urged us to be. May it ever be so.”


Jo-Ann Van Reeuwyk

Art and art history


Van Reeuwyk has been impacted for life by the profound moments with her students and experiences she has had in scholarship research with individual faculty members. Working with dedicated professionals has set Calvin apart from other institutes for Van Reeuwyk. She commented that “their care for students is extraordinary.”

Traveling to Asia and Africa has left deep impressions on Van Reeuwyk about how the arts can heal and promote justice. She will remember and miss “the deep-held convictions, the dedications and the openness for the new within the work of the college faculty and staff.”


Barbara Timmermans


1983-88, 1992-2003, 2014-18

Timmermans was part of the team that developed Calvin’s nursing curriculum as the Hope-Calvin department of nursing was coming to an end. This was an experience she valued, especially that the same plan, with some slight revisions, is still being used.

The experience Timmermans has had at Calvin has been extremely valuable to her: “To teach my discipline as a profession, a vocation, a calling, part of one’s place in God’s Kingdom has been such a blessing.”

She will miss the interactions with students the most. As well as the many regular clients at clinical sites and the time she would spend with them.


Robert Schoone-Jongen



Schoone-Jongen has found satisfaction in his career in having tried to convince every student in his classes that history is an important facet of our lifelong quest to understand God, his world and our role in it. Working closely with students who make their aspirations to become secondary school teachers become reality has defined his work.

Schoone-Jongen has appreciated that the class sizes at Calvin make it possible for students to know their professors. He said, “I will miss seeing young, ambitious, curious people each and every day.”


Bob Eames


2003-08, 2010-18

Eames has been impressed with the Christianity that Calvin implements in classrooms:

“It’s so amazing to be allowed and expected to share your faith and your life and your story with students to help them see that the Christian life is a journey that we are on and that we all struggle and grow in our faith and that we do it best in community as the body of Christ.”

He will take away many things from Calvin, including a much deeper appreciation for James 3:1, many friendships and memories and an adopted alma mater.

“I’ll really miss advising students,” Eames admits, “especially sharing jokes and praying together.”


Cal Jen



Jen has been the most blessed by seeing Christ in the many students God has placed in his life and hearing the Spirit speak through them. He has learned much from them:

“My students have shown me that good teachers are passionate about their subject, care deeply for students as unique individuals and show it and make learning fun.”

Previously teaching at a public university has increased Jen’s appreciation of the opportunity at Calvin to share openly about Christ with students daily, inside and outside the classroom. After leaving the college, Jen will miss co-teaching diverse students in interim classes in Kenya, South Korea, Western Europe and China.


Phil Stegink



Stegink hopes that commitment to the growth of his students is what has defined his work at Calvin. He has valued experiences of working with students as they become educational professionals who serve disabled students, the families of those students and their communities.

Along with these experiences, Stegink will also take his office chair away from his time at Calvin. The people at Calvin are what he will miss the most. He expounded on this:

Interested, capable and joyful students who gifted me with their passion, and the remarkable colleagues who shaped my work. Thank you!