Documentary in honor of Michelle Loyd-Paige to premiere this month


Loyd-Paige received an award this fall for her work in diversity and racial justice.

Calvin is honoring Executive Associate to the President for Diversity and Inclusion Michelle Loyd-Paige for her retirement after 38.5 years at Calvin with a documentary on her life and work.

Loyd-Paige graduated from Calvin’s sociology program in 1981, went to Purdue for graduate work, then returned to Calvin to teach a January Interim course in 1985 based on her dissertation work. She then became an adjunct professor in the department of sociology and social work, and has been working at Calvin ever since.

Tim Ellens, Director of Communications and Brand Steward, worked on board and behind the scenes of the documentary along with Voyage Pictures. He told Chimes that the documentary is a “special project assignment that President [Wiebe] Boer gave to me.” The project, according to Ellens, was not “necessarily [one of] the run-of-the-mill type of projects that we normally do when we’re marketing Calvin. This one deserved to have a special emphasis.”

Ellens and others are making the documentary in honor of Loyd-Paige’s retirement and years of service as Calvin’s Executive Associate to the President for Diversity and Inclusion. “There is an appreciation for where Calvin is in terms of its diversity efforts, and then there are several people that think I had something to do with where we are,” Loyd-Paige said. 

Loyd-Paige is only the third faculty member of color to retire from Calvin. She is the longest-serving of the three. In the documentary, there is a scene where a younger Loyd-Paige reflects on the fact that there had been no faculty members of color who had retired from Calvin. This scene from her life was in the late 1990s or early 2000s, and the other retirees of color at the university have occurred much more recently. Loyd-Paige described the uncommonness of faculty members of color retiring as being “almost a unicorn.”

Many awards and distinctions have come to Loyd-Paige from outside sources, but this documentary is a unique recognition directly from Calvin. Being recognized directly from the institution is a feat, and she feels “a great deal of gratitude” towards everyone that was involved.

“I’m growing in appreciation to receive it as a gift. It’s okay to be celebrated, it’s okay to be acknowledged. It’s more than chocolate cake, but it’s good,” she tells Chimes, recalling how all she had really wanted or expected from her retirement was a chocolate cake.

Loyd-Paige told Chimes she looks forward to the next Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) who will be coming this summer. She believes that “Calvin is positioned well to do well in this space” and that although she received a lot of support in her years, “if they would just support this next person even more, Calvin is going to do great things.”

Ellens told Chimes that “It was an honor to be able to work on this with Michelle.” He noted that “I enjoyed and still am enjoying this project along with Michelle and just feel honored to be able to do this with her and for her.”

The plan is for the documentary to be premiered on April 20 at a faculty retirement event. How the documentary will be distributed from there is still in the works, but it is expected to eventually become available on YouTube for students to view.