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2.02.17 – Dr. Gleaves Whitney
February 2, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
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 more than 400 public programs, including four national conferences covered by C-SPAN and four internationally webcast debates — one to more than 3,500 viewers in 18 countries, and another 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; its original programs have been viewed a cumulative 27 years. 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.”
“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 studies field,” said historian Richard Norton Smith. “The Hauenstein Center is a jewel in the crown of Michigan.”
Prior to his arrival at Grand Valley, Gleaves worked 11 years in Michigan Governor John Engler’s administration, serving as senior writer, chief speechwriter, and historian. In 1993, the Governor assigned him to a task force that helped bring sweeping education and school finance reforms to Michigan that the New York Times called “the most dramatic in the nation.” In 2001 he helped the Governor establish Michigan’s Department of History, Arts, and Libraries.
In addition to his public-sector service and work, Gleaves is a scholar who writes and lectures nationally on a variety of historical topics. He is author or editor of 15 books including most recently To Heal a Nation: The Story of Gerald R. Ford, and (with Mark Rozell) Testing the Limits: George W. Bush and the Imperial Presidency. Other books include Religion and the Presidency (with Mark Rozell), Religion and the Bush Presidency (also with Mark Rozell), American Presidents: Farewell Addresses to the Nation, 1796-2001; John Engler: The Man, the Leader & the Legacy; and 6 volumes of Messages of the Governors of Michigan. He even has a children’s book to his credit, B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet (with Louise Whitney). Moreover, Gleaves has contributed chapters to half-dozen books and written entries in two encyclopedias. In 2011 he partnered with M. W. Grass Strategic Communications and Meijer Inc. President Hendrik Meijer to produce a two-hour documentary on Michigan’s famous senator, broadcast on PBS in December of that year. Several of his talks have appeared on C-SPAN; his commentary has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and journals; and he has been interviewed by, among others, The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, FOX News, Newsweek, US News & World Report, and NPR and its affiliates.
Gleaves has won numerous awards and served on several committees. In 2012-’13, he served as the principal investigator and hosted two programs funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to explore the historical roots of bipartisan leadership. In 2008, Gleaves and a Hauenstein Center team were awarded a Russell Mawby fellowship to examine the connection between philanthropy and the American presidency. In 2009, he was appointed by Michigan’s Governor to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee, a two-year effort charged with helping the state celebrate our 16th president’s contributions to Michigan and the nation. In addition, Gleaves is a senior scholar at the Center for the American Idea in Houston, Texas; the first senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in Mecosta, Michigan; and a member of the College of Fellows at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.
While director of the Hauenstein Center, he was recognized by the Michigan Council for the Social Studies as an “outstanding mentor,” and was awarded its prestigious Mel Miller Mentoring Award for 2009. In 2010 he was inducted into the national leadership organization ODK (Omicron Delta Kappa). In 2011 he established the Gleaves Whitney Fellowship at the Hauenstein Center’s Cook Leadership Academy. In 1984 he received Colorado State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Moreover, he has served on the boards of the Michigan Humanities Counsel, Arthur Vandenberg Memorial Committee, Michigan State Historical Records, and Historical Society for the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. He has also cultivated many institutional partnerships – e.g., with the National Park Service, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Gerald R. Ford Foundation and Presidential Library and Museum, Russell Kirk Center — and numerous ongoing professional partnerships — e.g., with H. W. Brands, Richard Norton Smith, George Nash, and other historians of note.
Gleaves graduated with honors from Colorado State University (1980), was elected into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society (1980), and was a Fulbright scholar to then-West Germany (1984-85). His master’s degree and doctoral candidacy were at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he was a Richard M. Weaver fellow (1987-88) and an H. B. Earhart Fellow (1988-91). He has taught at the University of Michigan, Colorado State University, Droste-Hülshof Gymnasium, Aquinas College, and Grand Valley State University. In 2006, he received the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Graduate Theological Union’s Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.
Gleaves was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and now makes his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife, Mary Eilleen.