Holmes named acting director of Hauenstein Center; Whitney joins Ford Presidential Foundation

Brent Holmes
Brent Holmes
Image Credit: Valerie Hendrickson

Grand Valley’s Ralph W. Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies is under new leadership, as Brent Holmes has been named acting director of the center following the departure of director Gleaves Whitney.

Holmes has been with the center since March 2018, serving in the assistant director role.

Karen Loth, vice president for Development, said Holmes will remain in the acting director capacity until a new director is hired. No search is planned until after the first of the year.

“I am honored to have been considered to fill the position during this transition,” Holmes said. “I am excited about the challenge and look forward to continuing to carry the torch.” 

Holmes said programming through the end of the year is already scheduled and in place. He said the center’s staff has worked hard to develop the Common Ground Initiative and Wheelhouse Talks lineup for the academic year.

“We will continue to provide world-class programming for our students, Hauenstein Center members and the community,” Holmes said. Details can be found on the events website.

Prior to joining the Hauenstein Center, Holmes worked as a student support specialist with Gaylord Community Schools. He is a 2007 graduate of Davenport University, with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management. 

Holmes is a U.S. Army veteran with more than 20 years of leadership instruction and training, as well as recruitment experience. He said he is passionate about all of the things that Ralph Hauenstein, the center’s namesake, saw were necessary in a presidential studies center — specifically that development of leadership, talent and capacity for service is necessary for the rising generation.

Holmes takes over the position from the former director, Whitney, who left the university to lead the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation in Grand Rapids, one of only 13 presidential foundations in the country.

Whitney served as the director of the Hauenstein Center since 2003, and established the center’s Common Ground Initiative via a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2012.

Whitney also pioneered the Midwestern History Conference through the center, and has helped host six major conferences around the topic and edited four books. 

The center’s Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy was also developed under Whitney’s leadership and continues to serve as a recognized center for leadership development for students. These students often have the opportunity to meet major political and leadership figures, including four U.S. presidents, three first ladies, two vice presidents, four secretaries of state, one U.N. ambassador, more than one dozen state governors and a host of business and non-profit entrepreneurs. 

For more information about the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, visit gvsu.edu/hc.