Wave of administration departures continues, new leaders step up



Michael Le Roy and Ken Erffmeyer (left and right) are among those leaving the university this year. Noah Toly (center) stepped up as provost this summer.

By the beginning of next school year, more than half of Calvin’s highest leaders will have held their positions for three years or fewer. Six of Calvin’s 10 cabinet-level positions have either recently been hired or will be replaced in the coming year, and the search for a new president has already begun.

In addition to replacing University President Michael Le Roy, Calvin is looking to hire a new vice president for advancement and a vice president for administration and finance.

According to President Michael Le Roy, effects of the pandemic have been a main reason for leadership transitions. “The pandemic has led many people to take stock of their priorities in life and make a change to align with those priorities,” Le Roy told Chimes, “That said, we continue to find excellent people who love Calvin’s mission and vision … Just like the world we inhabit, Calvin continues to renew.”

In mid-August this year, Vice President for Advancement Ken Erffmeyer announced he would be leaving Calvin to serve as vice president for philanthropy at the Fuller Foundation, which raises and invests funds for Fuller Theological Seminary.

According to an email from the president’s office announcing Erffmeyer’s departure, his team raised more than $300 million for projects and scholarships over the course of his 13 years at Calvin. 

Erffmeyer’s tenure at Calvin will end on Sept. 10, and his role will be temporarily filled by Greg Elzinga. Elzinga joined Calvin’s fundraising team in 2018 and has since served as a regional gift officer. The search for a permanent vice president of advancement will not begin until a new president is hired, according to Elzinga. 

Elzinga’s role involves supporting the directors of each of the advancement division’s five functions: Development (major gifts fundraising), Annual Fund, Alumni Relations, The January Series and the CALL Program (Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning). 

Tim Fennema, a Calvin alumnus with experience in a variety of financial roles at Steelcase, has been appointed interim director of finance until the role of vice president of finance can be filled. Jim English vacated the position early this summer after less than two years at Calvin. English took a position as Chief Financial Officer with Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Fennema’s role is to help ease the burden of financial leadership that has been on other administrators, to oversee day-to-day financial operations, and to establish priorities. “The biggest thing is some stability,” Fennema said, “… there’s been quite a bit of turnover within financial services.”

Fennema told Chimes he did not foresee the opportunity to step into this role but that he is glad to be back at Calvin. In regard to transitioning into the role during a period of other leadership changes, Fennema said: “Is it more difficult? Sure. I think if anybody said it wasn’t more difficult they’d be lying to you. But, on the other hand, is it insurmountable? Absolutely not.”

“God is calling people that have recently shaped and been shaped by Calvin University into new roles in his kingdom work,” Provost Noah Toly said of the departures, “and we believe [God] is calling people into new roles at Calvin, as well.”

Long-term cabinet members include Sarah Visser, who was appointed vice president for student life in 2015, Michelle Loyd-Paige, who has served as executive associate to the president for diversity and inclusion since 2013, Mary Hulst, who has been university pastor since 2009, and Brian Paige, vice president of information technology since 2015.

Lauren Jensen was appointed vice president for enrollment strategy in 2019. Kevin den Dulk was appointed associate provost for the Global Campus in 2020.

New administrative leaders spoke highly of current cabinet members. Toly, who was announced as the new provost (a position vacated by Cheryl Brandsen’s retirement) in April, told Chimes he has been “learning from a large group of committed, wise, and experienced leaders who have been managing their own areas of responsibility while also stepping into the gap,” as he transitions into leadership at Calvin in the midst of other administrative changes.

“Some turnover is inevitable in a large organization,” Elzinga said, “but the people who are in cabinet and other leadership roles at Calvin have a deep base of experience and a demonstrated commitment to serving our students, families, faculty and staff with excellence.”