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Hauenstein Center accepts $1 million gift

  • J.C. and Tammy Huizenga

Posted on November 06, 2015

The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies has accepted a $1 million gift from local business leader J.C. Huizenga and his wife, Tammy, in honor of the center's namesake Ralph Hauenstein.

Both J.C. and Tammy Huizenga are directors for the Grand Valley University Foundation; J.C. Huizenga also serves on the Hauenstein Center Executive Board. Tammy is a physician with a clinical practice known as the Born Clinic.

The gift will be used to expand the impact the center has regionally and around the nation while working to achieve its mission of preparing a community of ethical, effective leaders for the 21st century.

"The Hauenstein Center is dedicated to enlarging Col. Hauenstein’s legacy of leadership and service to the students, emerging leaders and citizens we can reach. This extraordinary gift will help us achieve our mission of expanding that reach," said Gleaves Whitney, Hauenstein Center director.

The Hauenstein Center works to accomplish its mission through three primary programs, including the popular annual Common Ground Initiative, which brings together conservative and progressive thinkers and experts to solve real-world problems; the Cook Leadership Academy, which works with students to develop leadership skills and provide them with access to dedicated professional mentors; and the Wheelhouse Talks, which allows community leaders and entrepreneurs to share personal stories of success and failure, and what they learned along the way.

"We are extremely grateful to the Huizengas for their generous gift. It will significantly help us strengthen our mission to carry out Ralph’s vision, which is very much needed in today’s world: preparing ethical and effective leaders to take the helm in the future by understanding the past. This is really an investment in the finest young people in the region," said Karen Loth, vice president for development at Grand Valley.

The namesake of the Hauenstein Center is Ralph Hauenstein, former city editor of the Grand Rapids Herald who rose to the rank of colonel and became chief of Army intelligence in Europe during World War II. He was one of the first Americans to see liberated Paris, war-torn Germany and Nazi concentration camps. After serving in the war, Hauenstein returned to West Michigan resolute in his desire to help improve international relations and seek peaceful solutions to conflict. He established the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley in 2001 to inspire current and future leaders to make a positive impact on the world.

“In the 20th century I saw with my own eyes the worst that leaders are capable of,” Hauenstein said. “In the 21st century, I want to encourage the best leadership possible so that the world will be better for my children’s children.”

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