Hauenstein Center Staff
Gleaves Whitney has been the director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies since 2003. Receiving a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2012, he established the first comprehensive common ground initiative in U.S. higher education, and was instrumental in helping to revive Midwestern history as an academic discipline. In addition, he launched the first presidential Q&A column in the nation, Ask Gleaves. Under his direction, the Hauenstein Center's Cook Leadership Academy has become a premiere center for leadership excellence. The fellows have met with four U.S. Presidents, three First Ladies, two Vice Presidents, four Secretaries of State, one U.N. ambassador, six state governors, and a host of business and non-profit entrepreneurs. “Gleaves Whitney is a real treasure for those of us who do presidential studies and work in the field of presidential history,” said award-winning biographer H. W. Brands. “He’s also one of the most effective entrepreneurs in the business of higher education. You can tell this by the growth of the Hauenstein Center over the years that he’s been the director.” Noted historian Richard Norton Smith said that "Gleaves Whitney and his energetic team at the Hauenstein Center have become, in a remarkably short time, a force to reckon with — and learn from — in the presidential studies field. The Hauenstein Center is a jewel in the crown of Michigan."
Prior to his work with the Hauenstein Center, Gleaves served for eleven and one-half years in Michigan Governor John Engler's administration as (seriatim) senior writer, chief speechwriter, and historian. During that time, he assisted in the creation of Michigan's Department of History, Arts, and Libraries. He was educated at the University of Michigan and Colorado State University.
Board Work, past and present:
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee
Arthur Vandenburg Memorial Committee
Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology College of Fellows
Free Enterprise Institute
Historical Society for the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
Michigan Humanities Council
Michigan State Historical Records
Padnos-Sarosik Civil Discourse Program
Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute
Russel Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal
The Imaginative Conservative
Wilbur Foundation (Santa Barbara)
Wyoming Catholic College
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Graduate Theological Union, Dominican School of Philosophy (Berkeley)
Fulbright Scholar to West Germany
Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society
University of Michigan Rackham Graduate Fellowship
Phi Alpha Theta
H.B. Earhart Fellow
Mel Miller Mentoring Award, Michigan Council for Social Studies
National Endowment for the Humanities
Omicron Delta Kappa
First Senior Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center
Richard M. Weaver Fellow
Colorado State University Distinguished Alumni Award
University of Colorado Regents Scholar
Books and other publications:
American Presidents: Farewell Addresses to the Nation, 1796-2001 (Lanham, 2003), Editor
B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet (Ann Arbor, 2003)
Colorado Front Range (Boulder, 1983)
Finding a New Midwestern History (Lincoln, 2018), co-editor with Jon Lauck and Joseph Hogan
Ideas and Movements that Shaped America (Santa Barbara, 2015), contributor
John Engler: The Man, the Leader, and the Legacy (Chelsea, 2002)
Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations (Los Angeles, 2011), contributor
Messages of the Governors of Michigan, Six Volumes (Mt. Pleasant, 2003), editor
Michigan History (July/August 2018), contributor
Presidents and the Constitution (Arlington, 2009), contributor
Religion and the Bush Presidency (New York, 2007), co-editor with Mark Rozell
Religion and the Presidency, 3rd edition (Los Angeles, 2018), co-editor with Mark Rozell
Russell Kirk: The Wizard of Mecosta (Michigan History, July/August 2018)
Testing the Limits (Plymouth, 2009), co-editor with Mark Rozell and contributor
The American Cause, by Russel Kirk, 3rd edition (Wilmington, 2002)
The Imaginative Conservative, 34 articles
To Heal a Nation (Grand Rapids, 2014)
The Education of a President (Intercollegiate Review, 2016)
The Fusionist Mind of Stephen Tonsor
Gleaves was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and now makes his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife, Mary Eilleen.
A Podcast Interview with Gleaves Whitney by Josh Herring: What's the Res
Gleaves Whitney: Introduction to Jon Meacham
Gleaves Whitney: Common Ground?
Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies director Gleaves Whitney recalls the life and legacy of former First Lady Barbara Bush.
Gleaves on leadership
Brent Holmes joined the Hauenstein Center in March 2018 as the Assistant Director. Prior to joining the Hauenstein Center, he worked as a Student Support Specialist with Gaylord Community Schools.
Brent is a 2007 graduate of Davenport University with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management. He is a U.S. Army veteran with 20+ years of leadership instruction and training, as well as recruitment experience with young adults. Brent is passionate about all the things that Ralph Hauenstein saw were necessary in the presidential studies center – most of all, the development of the leadership, talent, and capacity for service in the rising generation.
In his free time, Brent enjoys spending time with his family, watching college sports, and traveling with his wife, Julie.
Senior Program Manager, Cook Leadership Academy
Chadd Dowding joined the Hauenstein Center in August 2013 as the Program Manager for the Cook Leadership Academy (CLA). Prior to joining the Hauenstein Center, he worked as a Legal Contracts Associate and as a GE leadership program participant with GE Aviation in Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, and Boston.
Chadd is a 2011 graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Comparative Cultures and Politics, and specializations in Asian Studies and Political Economy. His area of study stems from an interest in understanding the international community and the unique challenges and opportunities of interacting in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world. He has been to India, Thailand, Laos, and Haiti and enjoys the opportunity for a new adventure. Chadd is focused on developing strong relationships among the CLA fellows, and to encourage them to achieve their goals and chart their own leadership path with the support of the Academy and its mentors to benefit our local, national, and international communities.
In his free time, Chadd enjoys following current events and world affairs, serving on the GVSU LGBT Faculty/Staff Association Board, participating in the Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP), visiting Lake Michigan, spending time with friends, traveling, and building new relationships.
Program Manager, Common Ground Initiative
Jakob Bigard joined the Hauenstein Center in June of 2019, after serving one year as a Fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy.
A first generation student, Jakob graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minor in Anthropology. He plans to go on to earn his Masters of Public Administration at Grand Valley, where he will focus on municipal and regional government, as well as urban and regional planning.
During his undergraduate time at Grand Valley, Jakob served two years on Student Senate’s External Relations Committee; his first year as a Senator, his second as the Chairman of the committee. His focus was on civic education and participation by the student population at Grand Valley, with special attention to the millennial voting block.
Jakob has worked on a number of political campaigns for both the left and right, bringing his acquired skills to his role as the Program Manager of the Common Ground Initiative. Furthering the path set forth by his predecessors; Jakob will continue giving platform to finding the common ground of the social and political left and right, to ensure the common good for all.
In his free time, Jakob enjoys film photography, playing harmonica, metalsmithing, and spending time lost in conversation with friends and family.
Office Coordinator for the Hauenstein Center
Allie Goeddeke is the Office Coordinator for the Hauenstein Center, a role which she began in June 2018. She is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science with a minor in Biology. She supports the Hauenstein Center staff by working to ensure the office operates smoothly on a daily basis.
Prior to finding her permanent home at the Hauenstein Center, Allie gained experience working in a variety of offices at Grand Valley including Conference and Event Planning at the Alumni House, and the Dean of Students Office. Most notably, as a student, she worked in the Alumni Relations department where she enjoyed welcoming alumni back to campus and assisting with the execution of various events.
In her spare time, Allie enjoys laughing with her family and friends, floating around Hubbard Lake, walking on local trails, testing new recipes, reading, and cheering on the Laker football team.
Rachel Florida is the Event Planner for the Hauenstein Center. She recently graduated from the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management and a minor in Spanish.
As a student, Rachel worked in several offices at Grand Valley State University. She worked in University Communications, the Office of the President, and Legal, Compliance, and Risk Management. She has completed several internships for her degree at the J.W. Marriott and Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. While attending Grand Valley State University, Rachel was an active leader on the Well Program Team for Campus Ministry.
In her free time, Rachel enjoys spending time with her husband, hanging out with her friends and family, reading, traveling, and spending time outdoors.
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Brian Smit joined the Hauenstein Center as Communications Specialist in June of 2019. Prior to his work at the Center, he received his Master’s Degree in Communications from Grand Valley State University.
Brian graduated from Calvin College in 2010 with a degree in Japanese Language and Literature. He chose the major as a result of his love for Japanese culture, as well as his passion for International Relations and global outreach. Following graduation, he spent four and a half years working in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan as an International Relations Specialist and English Teacher. He has travelled extensively in North America, Europe, and Asia and brings a solid foundation in global communications to the Hauenstein Center.
Brian is an avid writer of fiction, and loves reading, playing tabletop games and softball with his friends, and photography. He also enjoys collecting first edition books and presidential signatures.