Calvin University to Add School of Health with $15 Million Gift

Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photo by Andy Calvert, courtesy of Calvin University.

(RNS) — Calvin University, the prominent Christian school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has received a $15 million gift to establish a school of health.

The anonymous alumni donor gift, the second largest in the school's history, will enable Calvin to fund new faculty positions and develop state-of-the-art laboratories. The gift comes amid the sustained public health crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Everywhere we see growing demand for quality health sciences education," said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin University, in a press release. "We are deeply grateful for the vision that prompts this outstanding gift. Not only will it allow us to significantly expand our programs, but it will also create additional pathways for students who feel called to serve in one of the health professions."  

The university said in its press release that it would repurpose the West Michigan Regional Lab to support a new cadaver lab for teaching human anatomy.

Calvin is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church, a small denomination with headquarters in Grand Rapids. It is named after John Calvin, the 16th-century Protestant reformer.

The 145-year-old school already offers a nursing degree as well as degrees in public health, health and physical education, exercise science, kinesiology and health communications, among others. Its graduate offerings include degrees in exercise science, public health and speech pathology.

A steering committee has been created for the new school. It will bring recommendations for new degree offerings, as well as opportunities for students who are not seeking a degree. By fall 2022, the university will have launched three new master's programs in health-related fields. It is also searching for a new dean for the school of health.

Calvin rebranded to become a university in 2019; it has 10 graduate programs. It enrolls about 3,300 students and is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. 

The announcement comes at a time of transition for the university, which is currently facilitating a search for its 11th president. President Michael Le Roy, who has served as the university's president since 2012, announced in June that he would be departing at the conclusion of the 2022 academic year.

Kathryn Post contributed to this story.

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