GVSU joins West Michigan in mourning death of Seymour Padnos, engineering and science leader
Seymour K. Padnos, one of Grand Valley’s top supporters and chair of Padnos Iron and Metal Company, died July 9. He was 99.
The Padnos Iron and Metal Company, in Holland, is one of the world’s leading recyclers of metal, paper and plastic. Throughout his life, Padnos believed in the importance of education, and the collaboration between business and education to meet current and future needs.
President Philomena V. Mantella said: "It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Seymour's contribution to Grand Valley’s science and engineering programs over the years. As a pioneer for design in recycling, he brought both entrepreneurship and innovation to our curriculum for the benefit of our students and our community."
His contributions to Grand Valley were wide ranging and spread over four decades. Padnos was a pioneer director of the Grand Valley University Foundation and inducted into Grand Valley's Hall of Fame in 1985. Along with his wife, Esther, Padnos was honored as a Grand Steward of the university for his significant and lasting impact as one of the university's top supporters.
President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers said: “The occasion of Seymour’s passing is a time when we should reflect on the importance of one family’s philanthropy to our university’s development. From the early years, they began to give and kept on giving. Seymour and his brother, Stuart, and their extended families’ charitable inclination towards Grand Valley have contributed significantly to what the university has become. Without them, we would be lesser.”
In the early 1990s, Padnos partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to create a collegiate engineering curriculum, Design for Recycling. Three years later, the Louis and Helen Padnos Foundation provided Grand Valley with funds to establish an international design competition for engineering students.
In 2006, Padnos co-chaired Grand Valley's Innovation Connection Campaign, which helped expand the university's engineering facilities, with John Kennedy, CEO of Autocam Corporation. Representing two generations of manufacturing entrepreneurship and philanthropic leadership, Padnos and Kennedy secured the private funds that were needed for facilities, programs and scholarships.
To recognize their leadership and support, the Padnoses were honored with the naming of the Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. A decade earlier, Grand Valley paid tribute to Seymour and Esther's decades of commitment to the university by naming the Seymour and Esther Padnos Hall of Science in 1996. That same year, both Padnoses received honorary doctorates of humane letters.
Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, said Seymour's contributions will positively impact students for many generations to come.
"Seymour was one of the first people I met when I arrived in West Michigan in 1991," Plotkowski said. "He became a great friend and an inspiration. I am hopeful that our community will pick up the torch from him by engaging and questioning our students to help them be the best they can be."