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5.9.19 – Hank Meijer and Gleaves Whitney
May 9, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
Hank Meijer is executive chairman of Meijer, Inc. in Grand Rapids. He joined the family retail business at the age of 11 as a grocery clerk.
After serving as a reporter for a Detroit-area newspaper group, he became editor and later publisher of a weekly newspaper in Plymouth, Michigan. He rejoined Meijer in 1979 as assistant advertising director.
His biography of Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg was recently published by the University of Chicago Press.
Hank is vice-chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. He also serves on the executive committee of the Food Marketing Institute and is a trustee of the Kettering Foundation, the National Constitution Center and The Henry Ford. He is a member of the University of Michigan’s President’s Advisory Group and the Ford School of Public Policy board of advisors.
Gleaves Whitney became the first full-time director of Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies in 2003. During his tenure, he has been the architect of hundreds of public programs, including numerous national conferences covered by C-SPAN and various internationally webcast debates — one watched on YouTube by nearly two million people in some 30 nations on all six inhabited continents. He has overseen the tremendous growth of the Hauenstein Center’s website, which has been visited more than 30 million times. He’s also premiered a popular web column called Ask Gleaves — the first presidential Q & A column in the nation — and created a leadership academy for students and young professionals committed to public service.
Under his direction, the Hauenstein Center’s Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy has emerged as a preeminent center of leadership excellence in the Midwest. Cook Leadership Fellows have been face-to-face with four U.S. presidents, three first ladies, two vice presidents, four secretaries of state, six state governors, numerous business and nonprofit executives, multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, the world’s most decorated academic, a Grammy Award winner, and a national championship basketball coach.
“Gleaves Whitney is a real treasure for those of us who do presidential studies and work in the field of presidential history,” said award-winning biographer H. W. Brands. “He’s also one of the most effective entrepreneurs in the business of higher education. You can tell this by the growth of the Hauenstein Center over the years that he’s been the director.”
Philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum has called the Hauenstein Center’s Common Ground Initiative “an amazing experiment in civic and liberal education.”