“I am pleased with the extremely successful partnership between the Ford Presidential Library and Museum, the Ford Foundation, and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. The Hauenstein Center is making its mark with creative programs that help Americans see beyond the headlines. I’m delighted with the work Gleaves Whitney and his dedicated staff are doing to increase our understanding of courageous, effective leadership. It is especially rewarding to work with a presidential leadership center so closely associated with my good friend, Ralph Hauenstein, who is an inspiring example of a life well lived.”

~Gerald R. Ford
38th President of the United States

“I am very grateful to have received the Ralph W. Hauenstein Fellowship. What an amazing person Ralph Hauenstein must be!”

~Madeleine Albright
64th Secretary of State


“I want to express how grateful I was for the opportunity to speak at Grand Valley State University, and to see firsthand the phenomenal leadership you are providing at the Hauenstein Center. I was incredibly impressed, and the Center’s work is truly inspirational! I have profound admiration and appreciation for the extraordinary leadership Gleaves is providing to find ‘common ground for the common good.’ He is making a difference in shaping the future course of our nation!”

~Olympia Snowe
Former US Senator and author of Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress


“The Hauenstein Center is a jewel in the crown of Michigan. Gleaves Whitney and his energetic team at the Hauenstein Center have become, in a remarkably short time, a force to reckon with – and learn from – in the presidential leadership field.  With imagination to match their scholarship, they are making the nation’s highest office accessible to countless web users, and to a large and lucky audience exposed in person to the premier historians, biographers, and – on occasion – controversialists of our time.  Their programs are lively, intensely topical, and, in the best sense, intellectually provocative.  What a thoughtful way to wed history and headlines.  What a marvelous legacy for Ralph Hauenstein, who has spent a lifetime leading by example.”

~Richard Norton Smith
Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation;and Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb?

“I am so blessed to be here. It’s a very special institution and a very special center. My dear brother, Professor Gleaves Whitney, has done a magnificent job, and Joe Hogan, who is very young and an intellectual in the making with a rich sense of vocation. I want to salute Sister Ann O’Keefe for the wonderful work that she has done and, of course, the captain of the ship, President Thomas Haas.”

~Cornel West
Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and author of nineteen books, including Race Matters and Democracy Matters.


“We want to support what is going on in the Hauenstein Center. It is critically important not only to the cause of higher education in this country—to which we ourselves are very deeply committed—but also to our civic world. The kinds of discussions that are being promoted and held here at the Hauenstein Center are really needed not only in our universities, but across the country. So we want to congratulate Gleaves, Joe, and everyone who is involved in the Center. We want to congratulate the financial supporters of the Hauenstein Center and to thank them for making this possible for your students and everyone else… You make possible the kind of work they do here, the conversations that set an example for others in the country, and others in the academy, across the country—all the colleges and universities across the country—about real learning, serious intellectual engagement that doesn’t boil down to partisanship and demagoguery and just having one side up on a high horse preaching, but genuine intellectual engagement in the common goal of pursuing truth.”

~Robert George
Founding Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

“I value every opportunity to speak in connection with the Ford Museum and especially with the Hauenstein Center.  Gleaves Whitney is a real treasure for those of us who do presidential studies and that work in the field of presidential history.  He’s also one of the most effective entrepreneurs in the business of higher education.  You can tell this by the growth in the Hauenstein Center over the years that he’s been the director…. In a remarkably brief time, the Hauenstein Center has become one of the leading institutions for research and education on the American presidency.  Its facilities, speaker series, and website are absolutely first-rate.  It has something for every student of the presidency, from the dedicated scholar to the concerned citizen. The Hauenstein Center has really put Grand Valley on the map beyond Michigan.”

~H. W. Brands
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times;and The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

“Thank you so much for hosting lunch for me at the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and for moderating the panel discussion. I enjoyed the events and appreciate your hard work to make them so pleasant and productive. I am grateful for all the wonderful gifts that will remind me of my visit.”

~Rosalynn Carter
Former First Lady


“The criteria that I have for accepting invitations of this kind is [whether or not] I think that the question that I’m being asked is really interesting and important. I want to publicly celebrate the Hauenstein Center and Gleaves Whitney in particular for this initiative. The search for common ground is incredibly important.”

~Michael Ignatieff
Author of Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics and former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada


“Think how rare it actually is that people who have different views on subjects have an opportunity to come together to talk about them in a non-confrontational way. An opportunity to have a dialogue, an actual exchange of ideas—to do what my colleagues at the Common Ground Initiative are trying to do—is very uncommon, especially at universities where you would expect that kind of thing to go on. But that’s what the Hauenstein Center does.”

~Louis Menand
Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English at Harvard University


“It is really a privilege and a pleasure to be speaking under the auspices of the Hauenstein Center. The vision, as Gleaves just laid out, is so important and so humane and, really, quite Tolstoyan. Tolstoy would have been a huge supporter of the Hauenstein Center. You guys have shown me incredible West Michigan hospitality for the past couple of days.”

~Andrew Kaufman
Leo Tolstoy scholar, Lecturer and Faculty Fellow at the University of Virginia


“Your program has produced strong leaders.”

~Mark Murray
president of Meijer, Inc.



“Gleaves, I’d like to recognize you for the work you’ve been doing over so many years with the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley, and I’m so pleased to see that the University continues to support your efforts. We could not be having a better conversation than what we’re having today, after a very bitter presidential race. How do we bring the country back together?”

~Kiron Skinner
Carnegie Mellon University, author of Reagan, In His Own Hand


“The Hauenstein Center has become an historical resource of the first order for students of the American Presidency.”

~Robert A. Caro
Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the four-volume The Years of Lyndon Johnson



“The Hauenstein Center is developing into a significant venue for discussion of the country’s many domestic and foreign concerns.”

~Robert Dallek
Author of biographies of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon



“I’m delighted to be associated with Grand Valley State.  It is a superb university.  I’m very honored to be part of the Hauenstein Center.  It is the most remarkable intellectual and scholarly center I’ve seen in operation in many years.  It simply does a superb job intellectually as well as in the organization of its conferences.”

~J. Rufus Fears
Deceased, formerly David Ross Boyd Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma


“Thank you for putting together an extraordinary evening for the screening of The Reagan Presidency. It was, for Chip and me, a very memorable evening. Your facility is spectacular and what a gift the mission of the Hauenstein Center is to the citizens of Grand Rapids but also to the country. Further, this was the best organized and most efficiently run screening that we have thus far.”

“When I read the Hauenstein Center’s mission I think, wow, this has Ronald Reagan written all over it. One, honors the Founders’ vision of a constitutional republic; second, builds on existing democratic institutions that promote justice, freedom, opportunity, sustainable prosperity, and the rule of law; and third, envisions the possibilities for creating better communities. I think Ronald Reagan called that the shining city on the hill.”

~David Crouse & Chip Duncan
Producer and Executive Producer the documentary film The Reagan Presidency

“Gleaves and the Hauenstein Center staff are doing so much to heal divides…. When he was first talking to me about coming here, I read, ‘No other public university in the U.S. is offering a balanced, comprehensive exploration of what it means to be conservative and what it means to be progressive in the 21st century.’ When I read that this is what the Hauenstein Center does – and I hope it’s a big part of life for many of the students here at the university – it’s very, very exciting. This is very hopeful. Given how difficult it is to change anything in Washington, this is what we can do at a more local level.”

~Jonathan Haidt
Social scientist and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

“I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the Hauenstein Center. I have never seen a center like this at any other university. So on behalf of universities everywhere, we would like to say thank you for having a center like this and for supporting it so strongly, because the work that you do in developing students is absolutely crucial. As someone who cares about moral education, it is very near and dear to my heart.”

~Deborah Mower
Professor of philosophy and editor of Civility in Politics and Education


“Thank you very much for a first rate conference on June 1st. It was of very high calibre….[The panel on the Midwest and the civil war was] truly outstanding, one of the best panels I have heard in attending conferences in the past 45 years.”
~James E. Davis on “Finding the Lost Region 2016: Second Midwestern History Conference”
Professor Emeritus at Illinois College

“The Hauenstein Center is very impressive, especially the caliber of the young men and women….The Common Ground program tackles a central problem in current American Politics, and I wish it well.”
~Rick Booraem
Historian and Author

“What a pleasure and honor it was to participate in the Progressive/Conservative 2016 Summit. I learned a lot and met some wonderful people. More than that, I was inspired by the initiative and good spirit that everyone brought. It all went seamlessly, which speaks to an impressive team collaboration and professionalism. I hope our paths cross again.”
~Lisa Szefel
Associate Professor of History, Pacific University

“It’s a great honor, and I should say that when I received the kind invitation to be here I first thought, ‘okay, talking about progressivism and conservatism, that’s interesting, but not totally path breaking,’ but then I thought, ‘Wait, with progressives AND conservatives on the stage and in the room? There’s something new. I think it’s quite telling that that’s such an exciting prospect and that it has to be so deliberate for us to come together to have these discussions. It only intensifies the honor that I feel to be here.”
~Natalia Mehlman Petrzela on the Hauenstein Center’s “Progressive/Conservative” Summit
Assistant Professor of History, The New School

“I wanted to thank you and your entire staff for such a terrific weekend of discussion, debate, and sustained engagement. I can’t remember a conference weekend when I have learned so much and felt that the conversations between speakers and an audience were so thoughtful and important. It was truly an honor and a privilege to participate. Thank you so much for the invitation to speak and for everything you did to make the summit possible. I am eager to follow the Hauenstein Center’s events closely in the future.”
~Claire Rydell Arcenas on the Hauenstein Center’s “Progressive/Conservative” Summit
PhD Candidate at Stanford University

“I am a historian who has written a book on the history of the culture wars and it has been my experience that those who engage with this recent history demonstrate more empathy for those whom they disagree with and are thus better equipped to welcome their political opponents into the circle that we call America.

In short, I am a big supporter of the mission of the Hauenstein Center.”
~Andrew Hartman
Associate Professor of History, Illinois State University

“Thank you for hosting the wonderful conference on Midwestern history. I was very pleased by the facility and by the wonderful reception and assistance we received from you, Ann, Joe, and many others. In terms of how we were greeted and treated, this is one of the very best conferences I have attended in the past forty-five years. Please thank all who had a hand in making the conference such a huge success. I greatly appreciate all the detailed work and preparations that were so evident.”
~James Davis
William and Charlotte Gardner Professor of History and Geography at Illinois College

“Gleaves really rang the bell in his presentation to the forum at Cook Valley! We learned a lot that wasn’t covered in textbooks. In the 6 years we have been holding forums, he is the only speaker to have received the rating, ‘Outstanding’ unanimously!”
~Carl W. Eschels

“Kudos to you, Gleaves, and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies for providing such educational speakers and forums.  Wednesday was another example of the fine work you and your staff do to make these events successful.”
~Judy and Bob Hooker

“Do let Gleaves and the whole formidable crew at the Hauenstein Center know that I had a grand – a Grand Rapids – time over the two days. They really were sterling events.”
~Brian Domitrovic
Author of Econoclasts

“Thank you for your historical expertise, Texas charm and friendship with Grand Forum. The members could start a Gleaves Whitney Fan Club; they are so pleased to come to any/all of your lectures. How fortunate GVSU is to have you and the Hauenstein Center as part of the university. Your portrait of Winston Churchill’s humor, perseverence, leadership and emotional demons was better than a college course (without the homework and exam). And to dedicate your talk to Ralph Hauenstein was special to so many in the group who know and admire him.”
~Judy Palmer
Director of Grand Forum

“The most meaningful personal/professional experience of my adult life was my time spent as a Cook Leadership Academy Fellow with the Hauenstein Center at GVSU. The wisdom, knowledge and friendships I gained during this time have helped shape me as an individual, father, husband and engaged citizen. Thank you, Ralph Hauenstein and Peter C. Cook for your vision to create this powerful experience!

Thank you, Gleaves Whitney, Brian Flanagan, Liza Van Buren, Kathleen Rent, Chadd Dowding and Grand Valley State University for everything you shared during my time with the Hauenstein Center. Thank you to the many individuals who serve as mentors – a special nod to those that continue to impact my life: Kathy S Crosby, Rosalynn Bliss, and Mary Dailey Brown.”
~Jordan O’Neill
Cook Leadership Academy Fellow, 2010-2013

“This program has been a blessing in my life. The amazing students and mentors that are a part of this program have inspired me to push myself to my fullest potential. The opportunities that are given within this program are amazing and have helped me develop into a better leader both on and off campus. It is programs like this that truly make GVSU stand out. The emphasis on helping students succeed is extremely present. This program is special and unique, there is truly nothing like it!”
~Natalie Joaquin
Cook Leadership Academy Fellow, 2015-2016

“The Hauenstein Center has been an invaluable resource for me. CLA is incredibly unique in its ability to offer support, guidance, and opportunity to its fellows. From mentorship encouragement to dynamic special events, this program has offered me a way to transform my leadership abilities.”
~Devon Fata
Cook Leadership Academy Fellow, 2015-2016

“I truly enjoyed the networking opportunities, business knowledge I acquired, and events I participated in when at the Cook Leadership Academy. The experience with the Hauenstein Center helped me so much in my personal development as a leader.”
~Lindy Barnes
Cook Leadership Academy Fellow, 2012-2013

“I thank you for inviting me into the astoundingly supportive culture of the Hauenstein Center–a culture that, above all, enables fellows to pursue opportunities, goals, missions that they would have otherwise thought unattainable.”
~Joseph Hogan
Cook Leadership Academy Fellow, 2013-2016

“I cannot believe how much exposure I have had as a fellow — it has been such a short time. Thank you so much for the opportunity!”
~Jessica Parker
Cook Leadership Academy Fellow, 2011-2012

“To Tori, Kathy, Gleaves, Adam and any others behind the scenes at the Hauenstein Center, I would like to express my sincerest gratefulness for the past year, coincidentally on the card and pre-postaged envelope provided to me. I have been stretched as a leader, exposed to networking, given a free high-quality portrait, and am being sent to Varnum Consulting and a conference at no cost to me. Not to mention, introduced to several mentors and fellows that will likely be lifelong friends. And the list goes on with many other opportunities! Thank you again for all your hard work in making the Academy so successful, I look forward to another year.”

“Thank you for leading the organization that led to my Rhodes scholarship application and the refinement of my philosophy. Had there been no Hauenstein Center and Cook Leadership Academy, I would never have progressed so far. Thank you for the exposure to great leaders.”

“Thank you for two solid years in the Cook Leadership Academy. I tell everyone I can that the CLA is the best thing I have done in college. I’ve enjoyed making lifelong friends, and I am very grateful for the extensive resources, connections, and training to become a great leader, carrying on the spirit and mission of Ralph Hauenstein and Peter Cook. I’m sad to see my time with the CLA end. All your hard work in making the CLA so great has meant so much to me.”
~Evan Crain
Cook Leadership Academy President, 2013-2014, Van Andel Fellow, 2012-2014

“I wanted to take a moment and thank you for the experience I have had through the Cook Leadership Academy. The relationships I have built and the principles I have learned have been invaluable to my growth as a leader. …The staff at the Hauenstein Center have acted as complete professionals with the highest integrity.”
~Trevor TenBrink
Cook Leadership Academy Fellow, 2012-2014

“I just wanted to take a little bit of time and thank you for all the work you do at the Hauenstein Center. I am so glad and thankful that I had an opportunity to be a part of the Leadership Academy and learn from the best!”
~Olga Sarayeva
Cook Leadership Academy Fellow, 2013-2014

“Just a short note to thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Reagan’s Heroes program.  I can’t recall when I have had more fun, or been so warmly received.  The whole experience was a complete joy from beginning to end, and the hospitality was unparalleled.  You and your staff exuded a sense of warmth, cooperation, and family that is seldom experienced, and I chalk that up to your spirit and leadership.  Please extend my appreciation to Mandi, Brian, Kathy, and Adam – we could not have been successful without their exceptional professionalism and support.  I can’t wait until next year when I have the pleasure of returning, and hope that you will feel free to call on me anytime in the future.  Just as a side note – I thought Jeeves was a big hit, and you might consider that role as a side line in the future.”
~John Hamant
Colonial Williamsburg

“I want to express to you my profound gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to perform in Grand Rapids. You and members of your superlative staff really do embody and define character, integrity, honor, and patriotism. As I compose this e-mail, I find it hard to believe that just about two weeks have passed since we first met in person. You are a scholar and a gentleman. It is an honor to know you and to have association with the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. I thank you, your staff, and Mr. Ralph Hauenstein for the wonderful opportunity to bring history alive in Grand Rapids.”
~Brian K. Hilton
Character interpreter of John F. Kennedy and the young George Washington

“The Hauenstein Center provides the necessary resources and repository for an invigorating, imaginative, and thought provoking study of our American presidency.  We can view each U.S. president not only within the context of their times, but also throughout the evolving of our American identity.”
~Bill Barker
Character interpreter of Thomas Jefferson

“One cannot but be impressed with how the Hauenstein Center has hit the ground running.  The place vibrates with high-quality activity.”
~Roger Porter
Professor of Business and Government, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

“No other association has provided me with more opportunities to grow and learn than the Hauenstein Center’s Leadership Academy.”
~Dan Reed
Grand Valley Social Studies and Education Major, Cook Leadership Fellow, 2007-2009

“My internship at the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies provided me with a great opportunity to mature professionally and personally.  Professionally, I was introduced to a series of great speakers, books and ideas, many of which I had limited exposure to in the classroom.  Between the Cook Leadership Academy, annual lecture series, and Bergers Collection, I had a wealth of knowledge and experience at my fingertips.  On a personal note, the staff at the Center makes mentoring their students an integral part of the internship.  To Gleaves and his staff, interns are more than cheap labor sources.  They are an investment in the future of the Center, Grand Valley, and the world.  Interning at the Hauenstein Center equipped me not only for the professional world, but also gave me a taste of graduate school and the Academy for a fraction of the price.”
~Austin Knuppe
Hauenstein Center Intern and Cook Leadership Fellow, Calvin College, Class of 2008

“I very much enjoyed working with you and your talented students on the Living Homesteaders Project.  What an impressive group.  They made an outstanding impression for themselves, Grand Valley State University, and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.  The National Park Service certainly would benefit from having such bright people work for the agency.  Their enthusiasm, professionalism, and good cheer were so essential to the wonderful success of our oral histories.  I hope to work with the center on future projects.”
~Tom Richter
Chief, Interpretation, Education, National Park Service

“Having the opportunity to work at the Hauenstein Center and to be a Leadership Academy fellow was one of the best experiences of my life.  From interacting with highly regarded scholars to working on the many events and projects, I learned lessons during my time at the Hauenstein Center that I find myself applying on a daily basis.  My career involves both public speaking and leading a group of over thirty volunteers, and I have found the passion that the Center exudes for its work has been a valuable model that I use every day. I implore anyone who wishes to be a better leader, a better scholar, a better citizen to spend some time with Gleaves and the entire staff – it is truly a life-changing experience.”
~Patrick Reagan
Director of the Downtown Development Authority, City of Portland, MI
Graduate Assistant and Leadership Fellow, 2006-08

“Thank you for organizing the colloquium in Philadelphia and leading the discussion sessions.  The experience really made me think about the issues of the Constitutional Convention and how they affect us today.  I learned so much that I will use in my classroom, and I appreciate your direction and insights.”
~Chad Krier
High School Teacher, La Vista, Nebraska

“I want to thank you for making my last semester of school interesting. I was dreading having to take a history class but your class was engaging and fun.”
Thank you.”
~Shadia Gallagher
Student, Aquinas College

“I’ve learned more at the Hauenstein Center this year than I have in the rest of my career at Grand Valley.  It took me out of the textbook and put me in real professional situations. The Hauenstein Center has been an invaluable resource to me.  I didn’t know at the beginning of the year how much the Hauenstein Center has to offer, but in Mr. Whitney and his staff I have discovered a treasure trove of knowledge.  The staff is always willing to help students find solid, scholarly resources in the Hauenstein Center’s Bergers Collection.  I have also taken part in several events they organized.  The center has provided us students with a chance to work together on common interests outside of class, but still in an academic setting.  Overall the Hauenstein Center has added a lot to my experience as a student at Grand Valley State University.
~Sarah Gosline
Student, Grand Valley State University

“AWESOME!  Yep, I am screaming that!  I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to host the presidents of Mount Rushmore.  The staff here was blown away.  I have gotten nonstop e-mails since the performance ended.  You guys rock over there.  I cannot thank you enough, and I cannot wait to speak to the students tomorrow.  Thank you again, and thank you to the presidents!”
~Jennifer Hodges
High School teacher, Allendale, Michigan

“Tonight’s debate between Amity Shlaes and Jonathon Alter was another huge success for you and the Hauenstein Center.  You and your staff do a great job with these events and are to be commended.  You provide a great service to the community.”
~Brent Slay
Grand Rapids, Michigan

“Thank you for bringing this small town Wisconsinite some of the great lectures you have posted on YouTube, especially Professor J. Rufus Fears and historian H.W. Brands.  I can’t thank you enough!”
~Jamie Beckwith
Portage, Wisconsin

“The program was magnificent!  Thanks to all who had a hand in making it so.  The large turnout indicates how appreciated this type of programming is.  My birthday happens to be on Constitution Day & so I basked in such a grand celebration!  I look forward to more outstanding events.  Thank you!”
~Charlotte Veenstra
Grand Rapids, Michigan

“Dear Mr. Whitney: Thank you for your visit to my Government classes at Ottawa Hills High School.  It was great to see my students so excited about the discussion. They all commented afterward how much they enjoyed the activity.  I sure hope you will consider joining another class in the future.”
~Ann Kozak
Teacher at Ottawa Hills High School

“In my two years at the Leadership Academy,  John Truscott’s presentation ranked among the best speakers we have heard.  His insight and experiences – coupled with his knowledge of public relations – had me wishing that he spoke for a while longer.  I was also very impressed with how much he has been able to accomplish at such a young age.  I was most impressed by his desire to solve problems and manage some key issues that Michigan is facing today.  I vote for John Truscott to return to the Leadership Academy in the near future.”
~Brendan Siereveld
Cook Leadership Fellow

“The Hauenstein Center is an invaluable tool for all students, particularly history majors.  The website is a wonderful starting point for any assignment dealing with the history of the presidency – or with American history in general.  I would encourage all of my peers to tap into this wonderful resource!”
~Justin Noordhoek
Student, Grand Valley State University

“Our new partnership with the Hauenstein Center has proved invaluable in allowing the park to complete work that is vitally needed and provide special programs for the public.”
~Mark Engler
Superintendent, Homestead National Monument of America

“The Hauenstein Center has such a terrific reputation for hosting successful public events.”
~Laura Lee
Director of Communications and Outreach at University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy

“Professor Whitney, I was in your History 103 class last winter semester. I just wanted to tell you how much I truly enjoyed having you as a professor. I was very skeptical about any class that had to do with history and you kept your word that at the end of the class we would have a new outlook on history in general. Having you as a professor was a blessing and I learned so much from each class that I will carry with me for years to come. I have a new found interest in the way history has shaped our lives today and for that I have you to thank. You are one of the few professors who are passionate about their work and their teaching and I know you will touch the lives of so many other students. Thank you so much!”
~Lauren Bernacik
Former Grand Valley State University Student

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