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GVSU's Hauenstein Center receives major gift from Hauenstein family

  • Brian Hauenstein, Gleaves Whitney, and Ralph D. Hauenstein, from left.
  • Ralph D. Hauenstein thanks Gleaves Whitney for the work being done by the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.

Posted on December 11, 2017

Grand Valley's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies was one of three West Michigan institutions — along with Aquinas College and Mercy Health — to receive a major gift from the family of Ralph W. Hauenstein, Hauenstein Center namesake, on December 11.

The gift will allow the center to reach more students than ever, and transform them from learners into leaders, said Hauenstein Center director Gleaves Whitney. 

"Ralph Hauenstein was an American hero, and we honor him in all we do at the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies," Whitney said. 

Brian Hauenstein, Ralph W. Hauenstein's grandson, said the gift to Grand Valley, Aquinas College and Mercy Health represented a gift to the "mind, body and soul," three things Ralph W. Hauenstein thought were very important.

"These organizations are something he strongly believed in," Brian Hauenstein said. "That's why he lived to be nearly 104 years old, because he believed that all three of those things were very important. We thank you for all that you do in his name."

Hauenstein, who died in January 2016, lived his life in service, helping others through his military career and using his success in business to further causes that he supported throughout his life as a generous philanthropist.

His son, Ralph D. Hauenstein, presented the gifts to each institution to support Grand Valley's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, Aquinas College's Grace Hauenstein Library and Albertus Magnus Hall of Science expansion, and the Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences Center.

"I feel elated that I am able to carry out my dad's wishes regarding the important work these places do," said Ralph D. Hauenstein. "My dad believed in the mission of education, health care, and leadership and integrity in all aspects of life. I'm the guy carrying the ball over the finish line, and I'm honored to do so."

Hauenstein's previous gifts to Grand Valley led to the creation and support of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, an academic center that seeks to instill ethical leadership and the desire for public service into students and the center's Cook Leadership Academy Fellows. 

Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas said: "Ralph was able to create one of the region's jewels in the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. It's so important today to have discussions about ethical leadership in our nation. He was always forward thinking and supported efforts to shape the leaders for the 21st century."