A Letter from Joe Calvaruso, ’78
December 24, 2021
To our Albion family:
My name is Joe Calvaruso, and I am deeply honored to serve as the interim President of our beloved Albion College.
When I enrolled as a freshman in the fall of 1974, our country was in a fair measure of chaos. The U.S. was embroiled in the Vietnam War, which sharply divided our nation. We struggled with issues of race. We were coming off a gas shortage and slapped by double-digit inflation. Our problems seemed to stretch for miles – and there were no ready answers.
I’m feeling some of these echoes on campus and in our community right now. The College has faced significant challenges during this time. I walk through the quad and feel the tension. I’ve received phone calls from alumni, faculty and friends in the community who have shared their concerns. After nearly two years of the pandemic, we are all exhausted – and the end is not yet in sight.
But just as our ship righted itself while I was a student, so it will again now. Albion College is strong. Our faculty and staff are committed and engaged. Our students are passionate and focused. Our community wants us to succeed – and we will if we can pull together and put our collective best interests at heart.
In the coming months, I intend to do just that. We are about to launch a search for a new President, which is simultaneously an exciting and daunting proposition. I pledge to work hand in hand with faculty, staff, students and the Albion community to continue the day-to-day work that is so necessary for us to thrive. I ask that you join me in a spirit of cooperation to prepare to welcome our 18th president.
For those of you who do not know me, my roots in the Albion community run deep. I’m fifth generation on my mother’s side and third on my father’s to call Albion home. My mother owned Dorothy’s, a beauty salon that served the community for decades. Like my father and grandfather before me, I worked for the Albion Malleable Iron Company making sure product met quality standards as it was going out the door.
Like my parents and so many of my extended family, I graduated from Albion High School. I enrolled in Albion College after graduating, one of 200 pre-med students who started that year. But it quickly became clear to me – and to my professors – that I wasn’t cut out for medical school. So, I followed their advice and switched my studies to economics and management, which set me on a nearly three-decade career in banking.
That’s the beauty of Albion College and the liberal arts. My classes were small enough and my professors cared enough to step in and help me find a better path. I was able to take classes that not only prepared me to be successful in business, but allowed me to enjoy a second career and pursue my interest in public service to become Executive Director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation in Grand Rapids. That, too, was an incredible honor – as it was in 2009 when I was asked to join the Board of Trustees for the College.
My love for Albion College and all we stand for is tremendous. I even married my wife, Donna, on our beautiful campus in 1997. We look forward to celebrating our 25th anniversary year in Albion in 2022. Donna has adopted Albion College and the Albion community as her own, and I am delighted that both have embraced her.
I hope to meet you in January. Donna and I plan to spend time walking campus, visiting our various departments and programs and connecting with the greater Albion community. I would love to share a cup of coffee with you and listen to your concerns, your hopes and your dreams for our future. I am eager to get started and look forward to serving the College and the community, both of which are home to me.
Joe Calvaruso ’78