Bush To Speak At Calvin


    GRAND RAPIDS — A little over five years ago, in January 2000, George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, took to the stage of the Calvin College Fine Arts Center as part of a nationally televised debate among those seeking the Republican nomination for President, a nomination he eventually earned on his way to becoming the nation’s 43rd President.

    Now President Bush is in his second term as the nation’s leader. And on May 21 he again will grace a CalvinCollege stage.

    This time the setting will be the Calvin Fieldhouse and the occasion will be the college’s 85th annual commencement ceremony.

    Calvin learned late yesterday that Bush has accepted the college’s invitation to speak at its 2005 commencement ceremonies.

    The appointment was announced officially this morning by White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

    Calvin President Gaylen Byker said the event will be a significant one for the Christian, liberal arts college.

    “It is a great honor to have the President of the United States speak at Calvin,” he said. “By virtue of his position, he is undoubtedly one of the most influential people in the world. We want our students to leave this place challenged and motivated to renew God’s world in whatever they do. For our graduates to hear from President Bush as they prepare to leave Calvin and make a difference in the world is an extraordinary opportunity for them. The presence of President Bush will certainly make this a commencement that students, parents and the Calvin community will remember for years to come.”

    Byker said regardless of one’s political persuasion, the opportunity to hear from the President of the United States is a singular opportunity.

    “We invite many speakers to campus because we want our community to meet and hear from important national and world figures,” he said. “We need to hear and learn from thinkers and leaders whether we agree with them or not.”

    On May 21, Calvin expects to bid farewell to some 900 graduates. But it was a graduate of almost 50 years ago, U.S. Congressman Vernon Ehlers, a 1956 Calvin graduate, who, along with Ambassador Peter Secchia, lent a helping hand in securing this year’s commencement speaker.

    Ehlers, who also taught at Calvin for 17 years as a physics professor, has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993 and throughout his time in political life has gained notice as a leader on issues involving the environment, education and public health. He also was a strong advocate for Calvin in its bid to have President Bush speak at commencement.

    Bush will share the stage with a trio of distinguished graduates of Calvin.

    Slated to receive Calvin’s Distinguished Alumni Award are Edwin Bos and his wife, Carol Yonkers Bos, both 1968 graduates of Calvin, and Richard Katte, a 1958 graduate.

    The Boses are being honored for their work as founders of Worldwide Lab Improvement Inc., a nonprofit ministry devoted to assisting mission hospital and clinic labs in developing countries with consultation, equipment, supplies and training.

    Katte has served as a mathematics teacher, coach, athletic director and assistant principal at DenverChristianHigh School since 1960 where his boys’ basketball teams have won more than 700 games and six state championships.

    “In Edwin and Carol Bos and Dick Katte, President Bush will find three superb representatives of what we believe a Calvin education is all about,” said Byker. “All three have made a difference in the world in very special ways.” 

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