Awarding of the Ralph W. Hauenstein Fellowship and William E. Simon Lecture
July 14, 2015
On July 14th, the Hauenstein Center joined with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in celebrating the birthday of President Gerald R. Ford. The keynote speaker at the event, former Secretary of the Treasury and former member of Gerald R. Ford’s presidential staff Paul O’Neill, was awarded the Hauenstein Center’s highest honor, the COL Ralph W. Hauenstein Fellowship. Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center, had the following remarks:
"On behalf of Grand Valley State University and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, I am delighted to join you in commemorating Gerald R. Ford on his 102nd birthday. Thank you, Susan, and the rest of the Ford family, as well as Joe Calvaruso and our colleagues at the Ford Presidential Foundation, Library & Museum for hosting this year’s William E. Simon luncheon honoring the 72nd treasurer of the United States, Paul H. O’Neill.
I am proud to be joined on stage by David Hooker, who chairs Grand Valley’s Board of Trustees, and by Gayle Davis, who is our provost at GVSU.
Now, there’s a man wanted to join us today because he was friends with President Ford, and he recently celebrated his 103rd birthday – Ralph Hauenstein. [applause] Ralph and Jerry were friends for 80 years – from the time they competed in high school sports in the late 1920s till the last cocktail they enjoyed with each other, reminiscing over West Michigan and what a special place it is to live and work here.
Ralph and Jerry cherished their friendship and all that they shared in common – their West Michigan roots, their Republican politics, and their commitment to public service. What President Ford appreciated about Ralph was the leadership he exercised in every sector he entered. Ralph was:
-a civic and media leader when he was city editor of the Grand Rapids Herald;
-a military hero in World War II when he headed up General Eisenhower’s intelligence operations in the European Theater;
-an entrepreneurial leader in the global business community;
-a leader of international repute in his church;
-and a leader in philanthropy in our community, making a world of difference at the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, the Ford Presidential Library and Museum, the Van Andel Institute, St. Mary’s Hospital, and many, many other organizations that have benefited from his generosity and vision.
Now, Ralph never ran for public office, but he is a discerning judge of character and recognizes excellence in candidates. That’s why he never wavered in his support for Jerry Ford, from his first congressional run in 1948 to his last bid for the presidency in 1976.
The lives of these two American heroes – Ralph Hauenstein and Jerry Ford – intertwine and provide the context for the COL Ralph W. Hauenstein Fellowship, given by Grand Valley State University and its Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, to Americans of stature – Americans who have devoted their lives to serving our nation at the highest levels.
Secretary O’Neill: Ralph Hauenstein and the Center that bears his name are proud to recognize you because of your exemplary life of leadership and service. You are only the sixth recipient of this prestigious fellowship – the first was our 38th President, Gerald R. Ford. Thank you for all that you have done to demonstrate integrity in public office and thereby make our nation stand a little taller in the world. [applause]
[The medal and citation are handed over to the recipient.]
Now, Ralph wants you to know that this is not an end-of-life award. He regards you as a youngster, so he’s expecting many more great things from you in the coming years!"
WGVU summarized the entirety of the event in this section of WGVU News.