With no interim this year, January Series continues to adapt


Abigail Ham

Speakers for the January Series come from all over the country and world to speak.

“My whole adult life has been at Calvin,” January Series Director Kristi Potter, who has been in her current role for 15 years, told Chimes. “It will be bittersweet to be done.”

This year’s January Series will be Potter’s last. Serving as the program’s director since 2007, She has oversaw the implementation of webcast locations across the United States, Canada and Europe, and helped last year’s virtual Series reach almost 100,000 people worldwide. In total, Potter has been at Calvin for 31 years, 26 of those working on the January Series.

Potter spends the year leading up to each Series researching potential speakers, recruiting them and fundraising to keep the Series going. “It’s fun having a job where learning is part of the job,” she said. Potter told Chimes that the Series is well funded by generous underwriters. This has protected it from being impacted by recent waves of budget cuts.

The walls of Potter’s office are decorated with framed Series posters for each year. All but 2020’s (thanks to COVID) are signed by each speaker. “I’ve met so many amazing people,” Potter said of her long tenure as director. “One of the things I love is being able to connect a really good speaker with such a large audience.” 

Kristi Potter has worked for the January Series for over 20 years. This year will be her last. (Abigail Ham)

The 2022 January Series will run from Monday, Jan. 10 through Friday, Jan. 28 and, as always, will be free to the public. The Series will return to welcoming live audiences this year, but scheduling changes may make it more difficult for students to attend. In the past, interim scheduling accommodated a midday break for Series attendance. This year, midday breaks will not be available for students interested in attending an in-person session as standard semester scheduling begins on Jan. 10. Recordings will be available online until midnight to reach last year’s expanded audiences and to give students more options for viewing the Series, and more than 50 remote webcast locations will also stream the lectures live each day.

Beyond tuning in to the Series, there are several other opportunities for students to engage. 

The Series has partnered with SAO to offer two evening “Encore” performances designed to be more accessible to students with busy schedules. These performances will take place at 7 p.m. in the CFAC on the second and third Tuesdays of the Series. The Jan. 17 performance will feature spoken word artist Max Stossel and the Jan. 25 performance will feature the popular string trio Simply Three.

Professor Emerita Karen Saupe will offer a one-credit Behind the January Series course in the spring. Students in the course will have the opportunity to meet the speakers and engage in question and answer sessions with them.

“I hope students really do engage the January Series and figure out how to make it part of their routine for the first three weeks of the semester … that they still really embrace it,” Potter said.