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Grand Valley remembers Bill Seidman

Posted on May 13, 2009

L. William Seidman, founding chair of Grand Valley’s Board of Trustees and former FDIC chairman, died Wednesday at the age of 88.

Seidman was born on April 19, 1921, in Grand Rapids. He received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, his LLB from Harvard University and his MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

During World War II, Seidman served in the U.S. Navy as a communications officer on a destroyer and received the Bronze Star for service in the invasion of the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

He was the managing partner of Seidman and Seidman (now B.D.O. Seidman), an international accounting firm, and had been president of WZZM-TV, which he helped found. In 1974, he joined President Gerald R. Ford’s administration as an economic advisor and later became chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., a position he held from 1985 to 1991. He also served as head of the Resolution Trust Corp. in the aftermath of the Savings and Loan crisis. In recent years, Seidman served as a chief commentator for CNBC.

Seidman was one of the principal founders of Grand Valley State University, helping galvanize local support for the establishment of a public four-year university in West Michigan.

“I was motivated because I had moved back to Grand Rapids from San Francisco and I thought Grand Rapids had everything except one thing that San Francisco had and that was, we didn't have a public four-year college in our town,” Seidman said in a recent interview. 

Seidman remained proud of his association with Grand Valley. “I've had a great life. I've worked for three presidents of the United States, I've been in major business, and in other education,” he said. “There's nothing that I've done in life that gives me the satisfaction of seeing how Grand Valley State University is delivering on its promise to the Western Michigan area.”

Grand Valley’s Seidman College of Business was named for his father, Frank. He maintained close ties to the university and returned recently to talk about the financial crisis and give his opinion on the presidential candidates as part of the 2008 Seidman College of Business Breakfast Series.

Seidman helped found Washington Campus, a consortium of 17 business schools including UCLA, Cornell, the University of Michigan, Grand Valley and others.

Gifts in memory of Mr. Seidman may be made to the L. William Seidman Memorial Fund at Grand Valley State University. For more information or to make a gift, visit

VIDEO: Seidman reflects on his association with Grand Valley:

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