Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin administration emphasizes “One Calvin” at student meeting after Boer departure

The student meeting was held in the chapel on Thursday.

Calvin’s cabinet held a gathering for students in the chapel to introduce Interim President Gregory Elzinga and reassure the student body of Calvin’s future on Thursday, Feb. 29.

La’Leatha Spillers, vice president of marketing and communications, opened the meeting by asking students to gather together towards the center of the chapel. Spillers asked non-student attendees to leave; a previous informational meeting for faculty and staff had been held on Tuesday. 

University Pastor Mary Hulst prayed over the meeting.

Board of Trustees member Gene Miyamoto spoke on behalf of the board and emphasized that  “Calvin will be OK. You will be OK.” 

Miyamoto then reiterated information about former president Wiebe Boer’s resignation previously shared by the Board of Trustees in an email to the Calvin community on Monday afternoon, Feb. 26. 

Miyamoto acknowledged that the transition “feels quick” but said that the Board “carefully” followed the appropriate process.

Once Boer offered his resignation, according to Miyamoto, the Board’s main decision “became a matter of accepting his resignation.” Deciding whether to accept that resignation, according to Miyamoto, “didn’t require a long time.”  

Miyamoto responded to questions he said he has heard from Calvin community members — including a concern about replacing Boer’s “energy and enthusiasm” — with an emphasis on Calvin’s institutional identity that is “bigger than one person.”

Elzinga, who spoke after Miyamoto, told the audience, “What has allowed Calvin to flourish for the past 148 years has never been tied to one person, ever. ” He also encouraged students and faculty to lift each other up in the wake of Monday’s news and come together as a unified “One Calvin” community.   

Hulst then asked students who were willing to do so to lay hands on and pray over Elzinga.

After the prayer, students filed back to their seats to hear from Sarah Visser, executive vice president for student experience and strategy, who spoke about holding on to the tension of the moment. 

“We take comfort in the fact that God can do something none of us can do. He can hear and hold all of our emotions and questions and prayers at once,” Visser said.

Following the meeting, students generally expressed frustration, due to the lack of new information from the meeting.

“It was all about the future and looking forward, and had a lot of fluff talking about being good to each other. I wish that they recognized what happened more,” Noah Millen, a senior who was at the talk, said. 

However, Millen was impressed with Interim President Elzinga. “I think he will be a good leader, and that gives me hope that Calvin will continue its forward trajectory,” Millen told Chimes.

No opportunity for questions was provided at the meeting. 

As students left the chapel, at least one reporter from local news station MLive was waiting along the pathway to interview willing students.

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  • B

    Ben Bolt ‘95Mar 2, 2024 at 11:54 am

    Interim president: “What has allowed Calvin to flourish for the past 148 years has never been tied to one person, ever.”
    Can I say how disappointing it is that this is the message from the one taking the lead over a historically Christian institution. I would have rather heard him acknowledge that it’s success has ONLY been tied to ONE person, EVER.
    Maybe it’s time to bring that person back into focus… if that ONE PERSON was Boer’s focus, if that ONE PERSON was the focus of those around him, if that ONE PERSON was the focus of the board, then we wouldn’t be having these conversations at all.
    Calvin University and it’s board needs to refocus back to that One,

  • D

    Dan Dekker,'68Mar 1, 2024 at 8:23 pm

    Secrecy just breeds false rumors and wild imagination. That may make some parents choose to not send their children to Calvin and make alumni like me decide not to donate. Much better to be open and move on.

    • S

      SarahMar 18, 2024 at 10:56 am

      Totally agree. My husband and I are both alumni, but we no longer donate to Calvin, and it is unlikely that any of our children will attend. When visiting colleges with our oldest daughter, we quickly realized that Calvin has changed a lot in the past 30 years–and not for the better. This latest scandal with Boer has been handled so poorly that it only further seals my distrust of the college.

  • H

    HelenMar 1, 2024 at 3:04 pm

    What a waste of a meeting. This feels like just blatantly ignoring people’s concerns and trying to move on and not talk about it again, but this is how the cycle of secrecy in the church continues. I understand the right for the person who brought the accusations forward to remain anonymous, but the exact nature of the accusations deserve to be shared publicly. Either the situation is worse than they are letting on, or (and I see this as the less likely scenario) he has been wrongfully dismissed.

    • G

      George WestraMar 1, 2024 at 4:51 pm

      While I understand the frustration and curiosity, let’s keep in mind a few things:
      1) This is not similar to “the cycle of secrecy in the church” that has kept abusers in their positions or allowed them to transition without repercussions. Boer is facing the consequences. All analogies are flawed, of course, but that’s a dangerously flawed one that casts unwarranted aspersions on Calvin and its leadership.
      2) This is accountability for Boer without needlessly spreading extra info. Perhaps some of that is about legal aspects. It is definitely about protecting the victim. It’s frustrating, of course, but student curiosity doesn’t really matter. I’m curious too, but they owe the rest of us outside the situation nothing other than accountability–which might be limited to Boer’s removal, but could and should apply to anything else in the Calvin system that needs to be tightened and/or improved to prevent this in the future, if at all possible.
      3) Speculating about Boer being wrongfully dismissed based on zero evidence is incredibly reckless, even if it’s “less likely.” Let’s avoid speculation, please.

      • A

        Andrew SMar 1, 2024 at 5:19 pm

        Sorry – but you are wrong that he has faced consequences.

        I was at Boston College when the Catholic church’s scandals there broke. Simply dismissing priests from parishes and sending them to “retirement homes” was no where near the consequences that they “should” have faced, had the public known of the extent of their abuse.

        Before I go any further I want to say that I am NOT comparing Weibe’s situation to the priests in Boston. I am simply saying that we cannot say that he is facing “just consequences” because he was dismissed.

        Speculating that he has faced the appropriate consequences (as you seem to do) is just as wrong.

        Indeed, all speculation should cease. But in reality the only way it will cease if the BoT comes clean. And, on that they have failed the community.

        The OP is right – the only way is for the BOT to come clean on this entire matter.