Hauenstein Center accepts $1 million donation

GVL / Courtesy GVNow.com
J.C. and Tammy Huizenga

GVL / Courtesy GVNow.com J.C. and Tammy Huizenga

Lucas Escalada

The Grand Valley State University Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies received a $1 million donation on Nov. 6.

The donation came from businessman J.C. Huizenga and his wife, Tammy Huizenga. According to Hauenstein Center Director Gleaves Whitney, the donation will be used to improve the center’s efforts in the university.

Whitney said GVSU President Thomas Haas considers the Hauenstein Center a “core business.” Even though it is outside the classroom, it still provides an essential service for students.

The center provides a variety of services for students: The Cook Leadership Academy serves 60 students to aid in all levels of leadership development. In a broader capacity, the Common Ground Initiative provides an open forum for discussion among individuals.

The Common Ground Initiative brings a variety of great speakers to GVSU, Whitney said. Last year, Princeton professors Cornel West and Robert George visited the Eberhard Center.

The donation from the Huizenga family will help develop this program. The funds will be used to bring more speakers to GVSU that can further the center’s developmental goals.

“The only way democratic institutions can work is to get people with these diverse viewpoints together, and teach them the ways they can listen to each other and work with each other to get democracy moving again,” Whitney said. “We have got to get our democracy moving again.”

The initiative has hosted a variety of speakers that demonstrate the value of discussion and debate among colleges.

The Hauenstein Center also hosts a library that is unique. Whitney said it is the only place on Earth where one can find all the writings of the presidents of the United States. The center also has a fellowship for people who represent great leadership on the national level.

The gift from the Huizenga family will also help expand the center’s other efforts. From the development of students to the increased resources needed to provide better tools for the university.

J.C. and Tammy Huizenga are good friends with Ralph Hauenstein, Whitney said. The center tries to channel Hauenstein’s leadership, and the Huizenga family is trying to help the center fulfill his ideas.

The founder of the center is over 100 years old, Whitney said, and his teachings still shape what the organization wants to do for students.

Whitney said there is one quotation from Ralph Haunstein that still shapes the runs through everything the center does: “In the 20th century, I saw with my own eyes the worst that leaders are capable of. In the 21st century, I want to encourage the best leadership possible, so that the world will be better for my children’s children.”

Whitney said that phrase from Hauenstein connects the center and the Huizenga family to what he wanted to accomplish.

With the $1 million donation, Whitney wants the Hauenstein Center programming to become the best in the Midwest. He said he wants it to be a center for leadership excellence.

“We want our students to have a diversity of experiences to equip them for a tough world,” Whitney said.