Calvin University board stands by its decision that former president had to go

(RNS) — The trustees of Calvin College launched a press release Thursday (March 28), defending their choice to half methods with the college’s former president, who they stated admitted sending “flirtatious” and “inappropriate” messages to a girl who was not his spouse and subsequently he was not match to steer the Christian college based mostly in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Based mostly on these admitted communications, the Board decided that Dr. Boer’s conduct was regarding and inappropriate and that he couldn’t proceed to function President of the College,” the board of trustees told The Calvin Chimes, the college’s pupil newspaper. 

Former Calvin President Wiebe Boer resigned in February after the messages — despatched to a member of the Calvin neighborhood who was not school or a pupil — had been reported to the college’s Title IX workplace. The board informed Chimes that no formal Title IX investigation was performed into the matter however as an alternative, the trustees spoke to Boer, who admitted sending a few of the communications, which they are saying he admitted had been incorrect. 

The resignation of Boer, a well-liked chief who had been on the job lower than a yr and a half, got here as a shock. Boer had simply announced an formidable plan to develop the college’s enrollment and had been seen as somebody who supported LGBTQ college students on campus in addition to school who dissented from denominational educating about sexuality. Calvin is a part of the Christian Reformed Church, which made its beliefs on sexuality a part of the denomination’s confession of religion final yr. 

Wiebe Boer, former president of Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Calvin University)

Wiebe Boer, former president of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Picture courtesy of Calvin College)

John Hawthorne, a retired sociologist and longtime Christian school professor who now research Christian schools, stated Boer, a former company govt and son of missionaries, was a perfect chief for Calvin, which like many Christian schools, faces monetary, enrollment and cultural challenges. 

His departure was an enormous disappointment, stated Hawthorne, creator of “The Fearless Christian College,” a forthcoming ebook about the way forward for Christian schools. 

He stated Christian school presidents have confronted heightened scrutiny within the wake of the #MeToo motion and the high-profile scandals involving Jerry Falwell Jr., the previous president of Liberty College, one of many nation’s largest Christian colleges. 

Hawthorne , who has no details about the specifics of Boer’s scenario, stated Boer’s alleged actions seemingly had been seen as a betrayal by somebody the board had trusted.

“It’s a multitude,” he stated. 

Boer’s departure has led to questions from Calvin school, college students and supporters. A bunch of Calvin alumni have reportedly requested the board of trustees for a third-party investigation into the board’s dealing with of the allegations in opposition to Boer, according to the Chimes. 

The scholar paper reported that Boer was prepared to have his allegedly inappropriate messages made public — but in addition that Boer claims to have deleted these messages.

Campus of Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Video screen grab)

Campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Video display screen seize)

Boer reportedly employed an lawyer after resigning. He informed the Chimes that the board of trustees has shared few particulars of the allegations in opposition to him however informed him a criticism had been filed.

“Actually, Calvin has offered nearly nothing else about these allegations and the sum whole of my conversations was a single 15-minute video assembly with the board the place I acknowledged exchanging messages, which the College itself confirmed weren’t sexual nor concerned any bodily contact, with a non-student, non-faculty particular person,” he informed the Chimes. “I proceed to name for a clear investigation for the good thing about the complete Calvin neighborhood.”

Of their assertion, the trustees stated Boer denied a few of the allegations in opposition to him and that they didn’t discover Boer had dedicated sexual harassment “as outlined by Title IX.” As an alternative, they relied on an employment settlement between the board and Boer in his position as president. 

That settlement allowed them to determined whether or not Boer’s alleged actions made him unfit as president. 

“Of particular concern had been the amount, frequency and tone of Dr. Boer’s communication with a girl who was not his spouse,” the trustees stated of their assertion. “These considerations had been amplified by the ability dynamic, contemplating Dr. Boer’s place as President of the College and the lady’s position in the neighborhood.”

A spokesman for the College offered a duplicate of the board’s assertion to RNS however didn’t reply to a request for particulars in regards to the content material of the employment settlement or for remark about Boer’s departure. 

Chimes editor-in-chief Savannah Shustack stated college students at Calvin had been disillusioned at Boer’s resignation, feeling that he had allow them to down. Over the previous month, with little info out there in regards to the allegations, most college students have moved on, she stated. 

Shustack stated professors had been break up after the information broke, with some backing Boer and others wanting extra info. The varsity was on break for Easter when the board issued its most up-to-date assertion, so it’s unclear how the school will reply. 

Not like different colleges the place a president has resigned after controversy, issues seemed to be going properly with Boer earlier than his sudden departure, which is a loss for the college. 

“I don’t know that anybody advantages from him leaving,” she stated. 

Shustack stated college students seem to have responded properly to interim President Gregory Elzinga, whose message has been that Calvin is greater than anybody particular person. 

The scenario involving Boer echoes the case of Matt Chandler, a Texas megachurch pastor who was placed on leave in 2022 for sending what the church referred to as inappropriate Instagram messages to a girl. Few particulars had been shared in regards to the messages, besides that they weren’t romantic or sexual in nature — however the variety of messages and the tone of these messages had been deemed inappropriate.

The shortage of particulars about Chandler’s messages — which his church deemed an HR matter — led to hypothesis and confusion. Chandler returned to the pulpit in December of 2022 after a three-month go away, telling members of the Village Church, the Dallas-area megachurch the place he was the long-term pastor, that he was sorry to have disillusioned them. 

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