Name change to Calvin University requires new merchandise and renovations


Photo by Jonathan Boer

Calvin University merchandise will be added to the campus store in stages, while still selling some Calvin College apparel for nostalgic people, even after Calvin’s switch from College to University on July 10.

The name Calvin College displays itself in a multitude of ways across campus. Nametags, banners, bulletin boards, glass etchings, elaborate wall lighting, lecterns, envelopes and certain school newspapers all bear the name. Not to mention, a myriad of merchandise including: fluffy sweatshirts, stocking hats, Gryffindor-esque neckties, ballpoint pens, golf tees and snazzy tree ornaments proudly exhibit the words as well.

Chimes already explored the outdoor signage situation. Scheduled to change on John Calvin’s birthday, July 10, 2019 are 82 of the 140 entrance and path signs.

But what about the store merchandise? Follet, the company that handles the merchandise, plans to phase out the old Calvin College apparel and accessories and add in the Calvin University things. No information could be attained regarding a possible Calvin College blowout sale or about how long Calvin College merchandise will still be sold. For now, it looks as though there is plenty of time to grab those comfy geometrical CC socks well into the 2020 school year.

Items go through the Learfield Licensing program to be ready for sale. In order to be stocked by the ceremony on July 10, many Calvin University commodities are being produced as we speak.

The other Calvin College name holders pose another issue. Tim Ellens, Director of Communications & Brand Steward works on the problem. “Departments gave me an inventory of everything that has to change,” he reassured.

Ellens’ extensive spreadsheet categorizes things within and outside of each department’s budget and lists each item in prioritized order of when it should be substituted. The renovations supposed to be the most expensive, like the Burton entrance sign, will be funded by a few donors. The Burton Street sign is one of the higher-up priorities since “graduates can take their picture by the sign,” Ellens said.

The physical renovations for each department will happen in time, including changing the wall decorations in the recently renovated religion department.

“Things facing our external audience: envelopes, newsletters, official communications, banners, nametags,” will be the first things to change, according to Ellens. Student ID cards and functional equipment don’t really need a massive change since Calvin is “trying to be good stewards of the money,” Ellens said.

However, Calvin will not be changing its entire administrative structure by July 10. “July 10 is just the name change. Over the next few years, the college will figure out how to live into being a university,” Ellens said.

July 10 will bring out not only new products but also a pleasant remembrance of Calvin’s heritage. Ellens postulated, “July 10 will be fairly low key, giving thanks to God for his faithfulness over the years, not a lot of fanfare.”

The way Calvin introduces its new line of CU items will be different compared to other colleges.

“Dordt is being a lot louder about their transition. They’re bringing a whole new brand to play. They are already selling new Dordt University gear,” said Ellens.

Lastly, according to Ellens, Calvin University stands as the final name for the school. Although some have suggested “John Calvin University” as a catchier option, Ellens felt that “the JCU acronym would no longer make Calvin distinct.” As addressed on, other institutions also bear the acronym JCU.

Calvin University will forever change the merchandise and decorations for this institution, but primarily by just changing the one word on existing designs.