Grand Valley has named distinguished scholar and presidential historian Gleaves Whitney as the new director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. Many in Michigan will remember Whitney for his 11 years as chief historian and speechwriter for former Gov. John Engler’s administration. The Fulbright Scholar is an author and editor who is currently finishing three book contracts, two on American presidents.
In 1998, Engler commissioned Whitney to serve as the series editor of six volumes of gubernatorial addresses. Whitney also oversaw the transition of Engler’s gubernatorial and political archives to a permanent home at the University of Michigan. In 2001, he helped establish the new Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries.
Whitney has taught at the University of Michigan, Colorado State University and, as part of the Fulbright Exchange Program, at a college preparatory school in Germany. He currently serves on the Michigan Humanities Council and the State Historical Records Advisory Board.
Patricia Oldt, vice president for Planning and Equity, said: “We are so pleased to have attracted so many outstanding candidates. Gleaves Whitney brings a unique perspective from his years in the political arena and academia. He has an amazing network from his scholarship and his work that will prove to be invaluable as we move the Hauenstein Center forward in its mission.”
The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies was established in 2001 with a gift from former Army colonel and retired Grand Rapids businessman Ralph Hauenstein. Its mission is to add to the understanding of the U.S. presidency among scholars, governmental leaders and the general public.
“The Hauenstein Center has tremendous potential, and it’s an honor to be asked to lead it,” said Whitney. “There is hardly a more important subject than the U.S. presidency, arguably the most important institution in our nation, and one of the most important in the world.”
“Over the past few weeks, I have benefited from lively conversations with Mr. Ralph Hauenstein, President Murray, other university leaders and faculty, and friends at the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum. What comes through again and again is an impressive commitment to the center. There are exciting projects and programs to launch, and I cannot wait to begin.”