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Candidate Biographies

AGM 2015, Biographies of Board of Trustees Candidates

Hilda Buisman (Region 2a -- Alberta)

Hilda was born where her father attended seminary: Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Hilda’s parents were recent immigrants from Europe, and after completing seminary they moved back to Canada.  Hilda attended Toronto District Christian High, and took an undergraduate degree in theology at a combination of the University of Toronto and Calvin College.

After university, Hilda and her husband moved from Ontario to British Columbia, and then to Alberta.  They have enjoyed living in each of those three provinces, and have remained connected to the ICS throughout.  Hilda’s connection to the ICS reaches back to when her parents, who were supporters, helped her see the importance of a strongly Christian graduate school.  As a child Hilda remembers attending ICS conferences with the whole family and enjoying even those presentations she could barely understand.  Hilda was a member of the ICS Board of Trustees from 1993 to 1999, during which time her admiration for and love of the institution grew. 

In the past decade, Hilda has served at her church as a deacon, a Management Elder, and recently Chair of their Management Elder group.  Hilda current works as Director of Admissions at The King’s University in Edmonton, another institution with a strong Christian foundation. Hilda has also been a staff member on The King’s University senate. She is currently a staff representative to the University’s Board of Governors, which permits her to see up close what it means to be faithful on a daily basis to the call of Christ in post-secondary education, which she finds both an exciting and challenging endeavour.

William Daniel Jack - "Dan" (Region 2b -- Alberta)

I first learned of the ICS during a year (1973/74) I spent at what was then Winnipeg Bible College. There was an announcement on a student lounge bulletin board. I continued my studies at the University of Calgary in philosophy (B.A. 1978). The publications of the ICS provided me then with alternative approaches to questions that were important at that time. I visited the ICS during 1977 and sat in on a seminar led by Jim Olthuis and met with Albert Wolters.  I also attended -with my wife- several summer camp conferences in Alberta during that period.  Through the subsequent years – Perspective and Channel 229 have kept us informed of the story of ICS.

While I seriously considered further study at ICS – family responsibilities (two children) were paramount and I entered a graduate program at the U. of C. in the history and philosophy of science.

I worked as a tutor for Athabasca University from 1981-91 -  distance learning by telephone in those days. At the same time – since 1981 I started a contracting business- mostly residential construction- mostly metal products (from siding to roofing – including eavestroughing) .  We still operate this business from our acreage on the east side of Calgary.

My wife and I are members of First Mennonite Church in Calgary – an MC Canada congregation. My most recent church related board involvement was more than seven years (2006 – 2013) with MennoMedia – the publishing arm of MC Canada and MC USA – based now in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Christina Belcher (Region 6 -- Niagara Penninsula)

Dr. Christina Belcher is a tenured Full Professor of Education at Redeemer University College. Her teaching and areas of interest include literacy, worldview, interdisciplinary collaboration, culture and higher education. She is book review editor of the Journal of the International Christian Community for Teacher Education (ICCTE), serves on various boards, and is a frequent speaker at conferences on the topics of worldview, children’s literature, Christian education and higher education.  She has been a consultant and external reviewer for other universities in New Zealand and Canada. Christina has published articles with writers from various disciplines of study, and enjoys interdisciplinary collaborations that provoke wonder and further learning. Having served in New Zealand, Australia, and British Columbia in the discipline of higher education, she is now back in Ontario. She is a former alumnus of ICS in the Masters of Worldview Studies program.

Philip Preville (Member-at-Large)

Philip Preville is an Ontario-based freelance writer and journalist. Philip writes regularly on urban living, city politics, urban form and civic mythology, as well as on business and travel. He has written extensively about Toronto’s rapid metamorphosis from an orderly city of neighbourhoods to a dense, towering glass metropolis. His work has chronicled the transformation of Toronto’s urban landscape, the upheavals in the lives of its residents, and the city’s shifting sense of itself and its place in the world.

Philip was born in Montreal and raised there until the age of 14, at which time his family moved to Edmonton. He graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts in 1991, and then moved back to his original hometown to continue my studies, earning an MA in Media Studies from Concordia University in 1997. He moved to Toronto in 2001 and lived there for ten years. He currently lives in Peterborough with his wife, their three children, and his inlaws.

Philip’s professional career in communications spans the fields of journalism, editing, speechwriting, and public relations. From 2009 to 2010 Philip served as Director of Public Affairs for the Toronto Board of Trade. But his most enduring and fulfilling career has been in journalism. Philip has written for The Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, enRoute, Elle Canada, Reader’s Digest, Saturday Night, Maclean’s, Cottage Life, and Canadian Business. Philip is a National Magazine Award winner and a former Canadian Journalism Fellow at Massey College. He is currently a Contributing Editor to Toronto Life and a regular columnist with StarTouch, the Toronto Star’s tablet edition. He is currently a member of the Professional Advisory Council for the Department of English at Ryerson University.

Rick VanManen (Member-at-Large)

My name is Rick VanManen and I’ve served as the Christian Reformed Campus Minister at the University of Alberta for the past seven years. My campus ministry includes programming such as grad and undergrad student groups, bible and book studies, and advising the Last Alliance: U of A Tolkien Society; one on one pastoral care; and serving the university through crisis response and the promoting healthy spirituality on campus. I’m currently the chair of the Interfaith Chaplains’ Association at the University of Alberta and the vice-president of the Christian Reformed Campus Ministry Committee.

I’m in the third year of a PhD in Religious Studies. My focus is on the desert Christianity of Egypt in the late third and early forth centuries of the Common Era. My interest is in the desert Christians’ use of the Hebrew Bible, Jewish/Christian relations, and the history and transmission of desert Christian texts.

My time at the ICS has influenced my current work and life in a variety of positive ways. The ICS expanded my reading. Authors like Levinas, Derrida, and Smith are now part of my library and I continually incorporate their thinking into my ministry. Through the ICS I have learned to be more open toward real differences in theologies and philosophies that has aided me in my pastoral care and interfaith work. 

I believe the ICS to be a beautiful gift that our Reformed heritage gives to both the academic world and those outside of the Reformed tradition and it would be a real privilege to serve on the ICS board.

John Valk (Region 8 -- Eastern Canada)

John Valk is Professor of Worldview Studies at Renaissance College, University of New Brunswick. His teaching, research and writing focuses on worldviews.  He has presented academic papers at various national and international conferences, and published in various academic journals and books.  He is currently involved in a book-writing project with members of the Faculty of Education at Ankara University (Turkey) and is also a Visiting Professor at the Protestant University of Darmstadt, Germany.  He has served as a board member of the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue, Citizens for Public Justice, and Habitat for Humanity (Fredericton). He has served one term on the ICS Board of Trustees and as Chair of its Partnering Committee.  He is married with four sons.  John and his family are members of the Fredericton Christian Reformed Church. 

John graduated with a Masters in Philosophy from ICS and a PhD from the University of Toronto.  His son John-Harmen graduated with a Masters in Worldview Studies from ICS.  ICS has been very influential in the life of both father and son.  John feels that the foundational work done at ICS, including that of its new Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics, is very beneficial for both younger and older scholars, and can be enhanced through partnering with other universities or individual faculty members on other campuses through collaborative scholarly endeavours.