President Boer to officially take the reins this week

Inauguration events highlight vision of sustainability, diversity and community


Photo by Abigail Ham

Joanna and Wiebe have filed a complaint against Calvin in federal court.

President-elect Wiebe Boer will be inaugurated at a ceremony on campus this week. Boer was appointed by the Board of Trustees in March after a six-month search

Inauguration events have been themed around Boer’s vision for the university’s future. Those events, which kicked off in early October, will culminate in a formal inauguration ceremony this Wednesday. 

Some aspects of the ceremony harken back to past inaugurations. Yet, this inauguration’s emphasis on intentionally inviting stakeholders and partners from around the world into the process of welcoming Boer is new, Inauguration Steering Committee Project Manager Julia VanderMolen told Chimes.

The formal ceremony will be “an official introduction of Wiebe and Joanna Boer and their family. During the ceremony, Dr. Boer will elaborate on his vision for Calvin to renew its call to global good,” according to the inauguration website.

Boer will officially taks the reins at a pivotal moment in the university’s history. Multiple master plans for campus improvement are underway and the Global Campus and graduate programs are rapidly growing, but university leadership are also facing some difficult situations. Key issues identified in the Presidential Search Committee’s position profile last year included poor faculty and staff morale, enrollment challenges and managing the aftermath of the Christian Reformed Church in North America’s decision about human sexuality at Synod 2022.

In just a few months, President Boer has brought an incredible amount of new energy and life to Calvin,” said Student Body President Nain Miranda, who served on the Inauguration Steering Committee. “We should most definitely celebrate his leadership as he leads the institution into this new era … It’s a time of reinvigoration for Calvin, where hope is reignited.”


Pulling off the inauguration events has been a highly collaborative endeavor, with Creative Dining Services, catering, communications and marketing, facilities, the Prince Conference Center and more contributing. VanderMolen described her role in the process as “connecting all the dots.”

The Vision Events Subcommittee, which Miranda also served on, focused on the development and execution of “vision events” — the pre-inauguration events that have taken place over the past two weeks. 

“We focused on what President Boer is passionate about and what his goals for the institution are,” Miranda said. “We know that he values things such as diversity, sustainability and partnership so we planned events around those themes.”

Events focused on sustainability and diversity were open to the public.

Boer worked in renewable energy before coming to Calvin, so sustainability is something “really close to his heart,” VanderMolen said. Boer hosted Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, Vice President of the Evangelical Environmental Network Kyle Meyaard-Schaap and Calvin faculty and students this Saturday, Oct. 22, for a panel on sustainability. The day’s events also included a hands-on restoration activity in a region of the Plaster Creek watershed where Calvin’s Plaster Creek Stewards program has ongoing restoration efforts.

Events focused on diversity included a lecture by Rev. Dr. Robert Chao Romero, professor of Chicana/o Studies and Asian American Studies at UCLA and author of the book “Brown Church.” His lecture “Called from a Future Hope” explored the apostle John’s vision for a multiethnic church in Revelation 21. The university also hosted a Hispanic Heritage month panel featuring local pastors and business people as well as Calvin students and staff. 

Calvin’s strategic partners also have a role in the week’s festivities. “The week of inauguration President Boer is meeting with a couple of different groups that represent really good partners for Calvin,” VanderMolen said. These groups include other Reformed college and university presidents, the School of Health’s board of advisors, CPI staff and representatives of the CRCNA. 

Looking forward, looking back

VanderMolen was a student at Calvin when former president Michael Le Roy was inaugurated in 2012. “There are some elements that we kind of copy and pasted [from that ceremony],” she said. The same wording will be used for the charge from the Board of Trustees for President Boer that was used for Le Roy. The Inauguration Steering Committee has also commissioned a poem from the same faculty member, English professor Jane Zwart, who wrote one for Le Roy’s inauguration.

“We did look at Inaugurations in the past in order to keep what is important to the institution,” Miranda said. “This inauguration might be different from previous ones in the sense that we have planned events around it, in the sense that we have extended our hand to partner with so many other institutions, and because we are now a University and have a Global Campus.”

While involving the whole community has been a factor of past inaugurations, VanderMolen said it’s being done with more intentionality this time around. “Broadly I think the community that surrounds Calvin has always been pretty supportive,” VanderMolen said. “With this inauguration we are extending invites to those communities [that have always showed up] but we’re also trying to increase the people who come into Calvin’s orbit via this event.”

VanderMolen said attending Le Roy’s inauguration made her more invested in Calvin throughout the rest of his presidency, and she encouraged current students to attend Boer’s inauguration. “I know it’s a hard sell for students to come to a ceremony in the middle of a school day,” VanderMolen said. “[But] everyone should come.” 

“This is only one of 12 presidential inaugurations in Calvin’s history,” Miranda said. “This is an opportunity that not many students have had and will have. Not many students in Calvin’s history will get to say: ‘I was at President Boer’s Inauguration!’”