Sacrificing identity for profit won’t work long term

My name is Jonas Weaver and I graduated from Calvin in 2018 with a double major in Philosophy and German. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D—nearing qualifying exams—in German Studies at the University of California, Irvine. I woke up this morning to the Chimes article announcing the cuts of the astronomy minor, Chinese major and minor, classical studies major and minor, Greek and Latin minors, Dutch major and minor, German major and global development studies major and minor. With these cuts came the announcement that Professors Noe and Roberts were let go.

I will note that I “understand” the cynical logic of the marketplace which allegedly motivated this decision. However, the grotesquery of this decision in light of recent announcements of a $22.5 million School of Business, the plan to create a new and sexy Commons Union, and adding graduate programs online taught by adjuncts marks a depressing and cynical turn by the school. In what sense can Calvin claim to be a liberal arts school when foundational elements of a liberal arts education are being cut, neglected, and passively ignored into non-existence? Outside looking in, Calvin’s marketing seems aimed at reproducing a group of professional managerial class members who hoard their status and virtue in the name of Christ. Reproducing the professional managerial class seems quite the opposite of encouraging deep thought and wholehearted living. It also seems very far from cultivating a disposition aimed at justice.

I am ashamed of the Calvin administration who seem more interested in turning Calvin into a weak, indistinct Christian university without an identity or purpose than creatively finding new ways to fund, support, and maintain what made Calvin distinct among liberal arts universities generally and Christian universities in particular.

I want to thank Professor Corey Roberts, Professor Pennylyn Dykstra-Pruim, Professor Herman De Vries, and Professor David Noe for modeling what the life of the Christian mind ought to look like, modeling excellent pedagogy that I take inspiration from in my own teaching, and being the best example of what Calvin had to offer to its students.

I sincerely hope the future of Calvin carries with it a recommitment to the liberal arts, a refusal of adjunctification, and a return to an actual identity. But given the way the administration has cut and sacrificed on the altar of professionalization and conformity, I remain skeptical, and suspect Calvin will be a shell of its former self; just another Christian university in the marketplace of Christian universities.


A saddened and angered alum,

Jonas Weaver

M.A. German Studies, UCI, 2020

B.A. Philosophy and German, Calvin University, 2018