Rooted and growing

It started simply, as great things often do. But what began in 1876 as a school of ministry training for just seven students has emerged as a world-class Christian liberal arts college. Our dynamic community is made up of more than 3,800 passionate, creative, and engaged students—and the faculty, staff, parents, and friends who empower them.

Since its earliest stages, Calvin has embodied the multidisciplinary approach of the liberal arts. Calvin College and Seminary began as one institution—De Theologische School—in 1876, taking students through six years of curriculum that incorporated both literary and theological training.

In 1884, the school expanded to admit a student body beyond pastors in training—now including aspiring teachers. The college’s horizons expanded once again in 1900 when the curriculum further broadened to include pre-professional courses. By 1906, the literary department, which provided four years of preparatory and two years of college work, became known officially as the John Calvin Junior College, a separate entity from Calvin Theological Seminary.

In time, the institution became a four-year college. In 1931, the school was renamed Calvin College, the name it is known by around the world today.

John Calvin

A captivating speaker, best-selling author, and theological figurehead, our namesake John Calvin stands as one of the most influential Christian reformers in history.

 

The Calvin Seal

Inspired by the 16th-century seal John Calvin used for his personal letters, Calvin’s symbolic emblem conveys our commitment to offer God our lives and learning.

Calvin through the years
  • Meet Geert Boer, Calvin’s very first faculty member.
  • A group of seven students, pictured with their instructor, in 1877.
  • Grand Rapids circa 1870.
  • Geerhardus Vos, PhD.
  • In 1905, Anna Groendyk-Houtman became the first woman to graduate from Calvin.
  • People gathered to witness the 1910 groundbreaking of the Franklin campus.
  • The first Knights basketball team
  • Johanna Timmer became Calvin’s first female faculty member.
  • A Model-T car was placed in the lobby of an administration building as a student prank.
  • Calvin president William Spoelhof, who served from 1951 to 1976.
  • In 1956, J.C. Miller sold the Knollcrest Farm to Calvin College.
  • DeVries Hall of Science opened in 1998.
  • The climbing wall and lobby inside the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex.
  • The exterior of the Covenant Fine Arts Center in 2010.
  • College president Michael K. Le Roy with Calvin students in 2012.
  • A group of seven students, pictured with their instructor, in 1877.
  • Grand Rapids circa 1870.
  • Geerhardus Vos, PhD.
  • In 1905, Anna Groendyk-Houtman became the first woman to graduate from Calvin.
  • People gathered to witness the 1910 groundbreaking of the Franklin campus.
  • The first Knights basketball team
  • Johanna Timmer became Calvin’s first female faculty member.
  • A Model-T car was placed in the lobby of an administration building as a student prank.
  • Calvin president William Spoelhof, who served from 1951 to 1976.
  • In 1956, J.C. Miller sold the Knollcrest Farm to Calvin College.
  • DeVries Hall of Science opened in 1998.
  • The climbing wall and lobby inside the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex.
  • The exterior of the Covenant Fine Arts Center in 2010.
  • College president Michael K. Le Roy with Calvin students in 2012.