The Kuyper Board of Trustees has four new members

The Kuyper Board of Trustees has four new members—Dan Ackerman, Renee Lee, Jim Peterson and Jeff Terpstra—all of whom are making important contributions to the life of the College alongside their eight incumbent peers.

The role of the Board of Trustees at Kuyper is to provide governance and oversight of policies, programs and general functions of the College. The size is usually between eight and 18 members with the current 12-person roster being a pretty typical number.

The Board typically meets annually in September, March and June, and Board members serve an initial first term of three years followed by two more possible three-year terms up to a total of nine years.

Kuyper president Dr. Patricia Harris said Board members come from a wide variety of walks of life, including ordained ministry, nonprofits, business, higher education, social work and more.

And, she added, she is grateful for the many ways in which the Board supports the College and her own work.

“Their professional experience, skills and unique backgrounds provide the College with a variety of perspectives as we seek to fulfill our mission of forming lifelong learners for purposeful lives of work and service,” she said. “It is their commitment to steward God’s call for the institution and serve our students well, that continues to move the College forward.”

Information about the new members of the Kuyper Board of Trustees

Dan Ackerman

Dan Ackerman is a native of Washington and California, spending 10 years of his first 20 in each state, but has called Michigan home for decades after being drawn to Calvin College (now Calvin University) to
play soccer.

He works as a transitional pastor and freelance coach for churches and leaders and said he loves the fact that God can use him to enter situations where people are sometimes struggling to find hope and can help them find ways forward.

The son of a pastor and school teacher, he still recalls a new Calvin professor named Glen Van Andel who was setting up a recreation degree at the college and who became the mentor to him he has tried to be to others. He also recalls former Kuyper professor Paul Bremer who helped him prepare for seminary after he heard a call to ministry from God.

“I needed to have two years of Greek language undergrad classes,” he said. “I was at a bit of loss as to how to make that work. Dr. Paul Bremer said ‘we can do this’ and we did.”

Ackerman knew President Harris from their time together in Seminary, so when he was approached about serving on the Kuyper Board he said he was honored.

“Having studied, and later taught as an adjunct professor, at Kuyper, this seemed like a good place to serve,” he said.

He added that he has been impressed with the commitment of the Board as well as staff and professors to Kuyper’s future, including a willingness to explore and seek creative solutions for significant

” Kuyper’s willingness to partner with parents and students – particularly those whose family background may not have included college in previous generations – is one of its strongest assets,” he said. “Rather than seeing the obstacles that keep a student from college, I believe we seek the opportunities to help it happen. As a parent who has had four children attend college, Kuyper’s willingness to lock in a student’s freshman tuition rate throughout that student’s time at Kuyper is a very inviting commitment for families seeking to plan for and help their student with tuition.”

Ackerman and his wife Carla have four adult children.

Renee Lee

Renee Kersten Lee is the Director of Finance at NorthPointe Christian Schools, her alma mater. A Grand Rapids native, she graduated from Grand Rapids Baptist (now NorthPointe Christian) before heading to Calvin College (now Calvin University).

She said that though she had attended a Baptist high school, she was eager to go to a Reformed college that aligned with her worldview. Also, she added, “Calvin offered Dutch language courses, which I loved.”

She also knew the importance of Christian education, thanks to her parents who, she said had two hopes for their kids: that they would love God and that they would receive good educations.

In her current work, she said she both loves serving her alma mater and also being part of a team that is making a difference in the lives of young people. That emphasis on making a difference is also foundational to her service on the Kuyper Board of Trustees, she said.

She recalled that growing up, she and her family used to attend lectures when Kuyper was Reformed Bible College and located on Robinson Road in Grand Rapids. So when lifelong family friend Jan Koopman, the Chair of the Kuyper Board, approached her about serving
the College, she was open to the opportunity.

“I had just checked out Kuyper’s 75th Anniversary book from our church library and read it cover to cover, because I’m interested in Reformed church history, so the timing was intriguing,” she said with a smile.

She added that she has been impressed with both the work of the Board and the leadership of President Harris, including the passion for Kuyper and its mission.

“There is a lot of work to do, but we have a fantastic team of board members, staff, faculty and faithful donors who are positioned to move Kuyper forward,” she added. “Kuyper has a unique offering with its biblical, Reformed worldview, its focus on work and service and its small class sizes. It has faculty that really cares about students, and it sits on a beautiful campus.”

Renee and her husband Erich have been married for 16 years, and, she said, they dote on two little dogs.

Jim Peterson

Jim Peterson was Head of School at South Christian High School for almost a decade and currently is serving his family as a stay-at-home dad and also serving Christian Schools International as their half-time Director of Operations and Membership for the Great Lakes area. He also has worked as an educational consultant.

He said past work saw him cross paths numerous times over the years with Kuyper personnel, including President Patricia Harris, and those interactions convinced him of the importance of Kuyper on the higher education landscape, especially Kuyper’s position as a Work College, one of only 10 in the country and the only one in Michigan.

“Many students and parents are looking for programs like Kuyper and only find public options,” he said. “More and more families all over America are looking at their options and desperately wanting Christian institutions to shape their kids, and we stand in that gap.”

Peterson has been impressed by what he has seen at his Board meetings.

“I thought the leadership of the College is in a great place and has positioned Kuyper for meeting its mission in growing and innovative ways,” he said. “They had a great grasp on both the opportunities and the challenges in front of them.”

A Grand Rapids native, Peterson grew up in Christian schools, including graduating from Grand Rapids Christian in 1989 and Calvin University (then Calvin College) in 1994.

The son of two teachers, he started college as an engineering major but a summer working at
Camp Roger changed his life.

“I wanted to figure out from that moment how to combine my love for God’s natural world and my love for helping kids see that world in new and interesting ways,” he said. “I went back to Calvin and changed my major to science and math education.”

Peterson is married to Rebecca, who is a provider at Trinity Health Grand Rapids in the palliative care department. The couple has four children and one grandchild and also are active in the lives of two former foster daughters.

Jeff Terpstra

Jeff Terpstra is the president of Scott Allen Creative, a Grand Rapids-based marketing agency that works exclusively with non-profit organizations.

A native of Wyoming, Michigan, Terpstra earned a bachelor’s degree from Kendall College of Art and Design and after graduation spent six months in Africa, working as an illustrator for Wycliffe Bible Translators. There he was advised that if a career with Wycliffe was in his future, time studying at a Bible College would be to his benefit.

“Having gone to a secular university, I thought that was a great idea,” Terpstra recalled. “And I determined that I was going to do it regardless of where my career might take me.”

The Bible College ended up being Kuyper (then Reformed Bible College) and Terpstra took two years to earn a one-year Bible certificate, working full time while taking classes on a parttime basis.

He said those two years were a transformational experience.

“The atmosphere was so beautiful,” he said. “We had a lot of Canadian students, and we had a lot of overseas students who were pastors coming to the U.S. to get formal training. There was a wide range of ages among the student body. And the professors were amazing, very genuine and down to earth.”

Though Terpstra has spent time on Kuyper’s campus in recent years, especially as a guest speaker in business and marketing classes, the opportunity to serve on the Kuyper board came as a surprise, he said, and also hit him hard.

“I wept,” he said. “I didn’t feel worthy of it. And I shared that with my wife. She embraced the idea and encouraged me to move forward with it.”

Having had one board meeting under his belt, Terpstra said he is eager to lend a hand where he is able.

“My dad and mom loved the Reformed faith and passed that on to their seven children,” he said. “And education and lifelong learning is really important to me, so to be on the board is a real honor.”

Terpstra and his wife Katherine (a Canadian he met at Kuyper) have 11 children and 16 grandchildren, with two more on the way.


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