Event Types

woman speaking

Presidential Studies

As a presidential studies center, Hauenstein Center programming routinely welcomes authors, historians, and presidential scholars to our stage to share their research and works. Programs include discussions on presidential history, our democracy, and celebrations of national holidays like Constitution Day, Veterans Day, and Presidents’ Day.

people shaking hands on stage

The Common Ground Initiative

The Common Ground Initiative is West Michigan’s premier forum for the promotion of civic engagement and intellectual curiosity on the issues facing our region, nation, and world. The Common Ground Event Series invites leaders and scholars to engage in dialogue across political and ideological divides and model the common ground approach for our community.

woman talking on stage

Wheelhouse Talks

The Wheelhouse Talks are a signature program of the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy. These events feature a brilliant group of regional, state, and national leaders spanning generations, fields, and experiences. Throughout the series, our speakers share their leadership journeys, lessons learned, and the values and philosophies that guide them today.

Past Events

2020-2021 Academic Year

2021 Events

2020 Events

2019 Events

H. W. Brands: Our First Civil War

Kasey Pipes: The Resurrection of Richard Nixon - Our Elder Statesman

Jeffrey Rosen: The Future of the Constitution

Tasha Blackmon: Championing a Community of Care 

America's "New Normal" Panel Discussion: Navigating a Global Pandemic

Jon Meacham: The Soul of America


 First Sergeant Matt Eversmann: Veterans Day Celebration

Ari Weinzweig: The Power of Beliefs in Business 

Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf: Jefferson, Slavery, and the Moral Imagination 

 Carl Szabo and Josh Hammer: Does Big Tech Equal Big Trouble?

Election Panel 2020: Progressive/Conservative Summit

H.W. Brands: Comedian-in-Chief: What Presidents’ Humor Says About Them, and About Us

Progressive/Conservative Summit: What's Now and What's Next?

Dr. Eva Feldman: The Leadership Thread Between Research and Practice 

General Wesley Clark: COl Ralph Hauenstein Fellowship Presentation 

Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy Alumni Panel: Leading at the Intersection

Paula Monopoli: Centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment 

Diane Griffin: Leading for Growth 

Akhil Reed Amar: Constitution Day Celebration

Cook Leadership Academy Alumni Panel

Searching For Deeper Common Ground 

American Institutions: Love Them or Leave Them? 

Chris Wallace: Greatest Generation Day

President Thomas J. Haas: A Laker Leader for a Lifetime

Midwest History Conference 

Amity Shlaes: The Great Society and its Enemies

Hidden Wounds of War 2019

Ronald C. White: Lincoln in Private

Climate Change Happens. Now What? A Panel Debate on Climate Change (The 9th Annual Progressive/Conservative Summit)

Finding the Lost Region V

Hidden Wounds of War Conference: Moral Injury

Pia White and Brian Hauenstein, moderated by Gleaves Whitney: Total War- American and Japanese Perspectives on World War II

Lynne Olson: Chasing Allies

Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett: The Constitution, Elections, and Democracy

Steve Luxenberg: Plessy v. Ferguson - Race in American Memory

Cook Leadership Academy Alumni Panel

President Philomena V. Mantella: Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy Graduation


Juan R. Olivarez: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

H.W. Brands: The Zealot and the Emancipator


Michael Beschloss: Presidential Character - Finding the X-Factor

Asted Herndon and Lisa Desjardins: The Constitution. Elections, and Democracy


Danielle Allen: Equality and the American Experience

David Eisenhower: Eisenhower, Hauenstein, and the Men and Woman Who Saved Civilization


Hank Meijer and David Roll: Arthur Vandenberg and General Marshall

Kelsey Perdue: Local Leadership from Global Experience


Jeffery Rosen: The Constitution, Elections, and Democracy


Bill Barker: Presidents' Day Celebration - Man and Legacy


Chief Isaiah Mckinnon: Policing from the Inside


2018 Events

2017 Events

2016 Events

Christy S. Coleman: How Shall We Remember?

Nikole Hannah-Jones and Jason Riley: Race and the American Dream

Provost Gayle R. Davis: A Lifetime of Leadership Lessons

H.W. Brands: The Golden Age of the Senate

Julie Metty Bennett: Leadership and the Environment

Election Panel 2016

Tammy Born: Leadership and Medicine

H.W. Brands: The General vs the President

Ronald C. White: American Ulysses

Eric Liu: Leadership and Citizen Empowerment Across the Political Divide

Stephen Shedletzky: Start with Why

Gleaves Whitney: Election 2016 and  Beyond - What is to be Done?

Progressive/Conservative Summit 2018

Martha Nussbaum: Anger and Revolutionary Justice

Akhil Reed Amar: The Constitution Today

Robert E. Quinn: Leadership & Positive Organizations

Dr. Barbara Kellerman: Leading for an Uncertain Future

Can We Find Common Ground Between Israel and Palestine?

Hidden Wounds of War

Conservative/Progressive Summit 2017

Finding the Lost Region 2016: Second Midwestern History Conference

Finding the Lost Region IV: Fourth Annual Midwestern History Conference

Hidden Wounds of War Conference 2017

The Hidden Wounds of War 2016

Dr. Debra Furr-Holden: Leading for Public Health in Flint 

Finding the Lost Region: 2017 Third Annual Midwestern History Conference

Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy Graduation and Keynote by ADM James M. Loy

Hank Meijer and Richard Norton Smith: The Mackinac Conference at 75

Women and Leadership Conference


Heather K. Gerken: Federalism in the Twenty-First Century

David Brooks and Ronald C. White: Character and the Presidency


Joe Jones: Empowering Grand Rapids

Debating the Constitution


George H. Nash: American Conservatism and Populism in the Age of Trump

Hank Meijer’s Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century


Kathy Crosby: Leading To Build Goodwill 

Dan Varner: Committed Leadership in Detroit


Gleaves Whitney: Common Ground?

Jim Keane: Designing Leadership


2015 Events 

2014 Events 

2013 Events

Louis Menand: The Marketplace of Ideas

H.W. Brands: The Prez- Machiavelli Visits the White House

Olympia Snowe - Fighting for Common Ground: How to Fix the Stalemate in Congress

Character and the Presidency with Keynote with Richard Norton Smith

Barbara Pickut: Wheelhouse Talks

Jason Duncan - John F. Kennedy: The Spirit of Cold War Liberalism

Mike Jandernoa: The Wheelhouse Talks

Francis Fukuyama: Political Order and Political Decay

Amity Shlaes: Coolidge

Evan Thomas: Being Nixon: A Man Divided

Coffee House Debates: Funding for Higher Education

Wheelhouse Talks: Michael DeWilde

Helen Fisher: The Biology of Leadership

The Rule of Law: President Ford and the Constitution

The Conservative Mind at 60

The Wheelhouse Talks: Megan Sall

Wheelhouse Talks: Cook Leadership Academy Alumni Panel

Coffee House Debates: What Good is Government Anyway?

Bruce Frohnen: The Constitution and Religion: Allies, Adversaries, or Something Else?

Herb Meyer: What in the World is Going on? A Global Intelligence Briefing

Cook Leadership Academy: Leader Lens Fall 2013

Screening of Best of Enemies

Election Year 2014: A Common Ground Panel Discussion

American Conversations - Jonathan Haidt: The Righteous Mind

The Wheelhouse Talks: Charles Pazdernik

Constitution Day Discussion Panel

Wheelhouse Talks: Ann Vidro & Menda Wright

Awarding of the Ralph W. Hauenstein Fellowship and William E. Simon Lecture

Donald Markle: The Fox and the Hound- The Birth of American Spying

Paul Woodruff: The Ajax Dilemma

PTSD Conference: The Hidden Wounds of War

Rick DeVos: Wheelhouse Talks

Wheelhouse Talks: Mary Buikema

Finding the Lost Region: Rediscovering the Midwest

COL Ralph W. Hauenstein Fellowship & President Ford’s 101st Birthday

American Conversations: Is Common Ground Possible?

The Education of Gerald R. Ford

Have the Liberal Arts Become Too Politicized? A Meeting of Minds, Left and Right

An Evening With Three Presidents

Cornel West and Robert P. George: American Conversations

Ralph Hauenstein Discusses Leadership during WWII

Why Progressive? Why Conservative? The Debate

Former Michigan Governor John Engler visits the Hauenstein Center

Rick Atkinson: The Guns at Last Light: The War in Europe, 1944-1945

Wheelhouse Talks: Leann Arkema

Andrew Kaufman: American Conversations

Common Ground Workshop: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

American Conversations - H.W. Brands: What Makes A President Great?

Hilary Snell: Wheelhouse Talks

Common Ground Workshop: Working with a Team of Rivals

Wheelhouse Talks: Troy Evans

Rosalynn Bliss: Wheelhouse Talks

A Celebration of Former First Ladies Betty Ford and Rosalynn Carter

Madeleine Albright

Coffee House Debates: Is Citizens United Good for American Democracy?

The Hidden Wounds of War: A Community Response

Reagan’s Most Important Foreign Policy Decision

Alfred Mele: American Conversations 

International Women’s Day Celebration: Let Me Sow Hope

Wheelhouse Talks: Kerri Reinbold

Judge Sara Smolenski: Wheelhouse Talks

Michael Hyacinthe: Wheelhouse Talks


Leader Lens: Winter 2014


Deborah Mower: Civility


Kelly LeCoy: Wheelhouse Talks


American Nations: Colin Woodard


Common Ground Workshop: Speaking Truth To Power


Coffee House Debates: Should Michigan Raise the Minimum Wage?


Mayor George Heartwell: Wheelhouse Talks





American Conversations - Thomas Jefferson: The Art Of Power By Jon Meacham

Learning to Lead in a War Zone: Joshua Lunger

Ask Gleaves Leadership Seminar: Meeting for Leading

Arthur Vandenberg & The Lost Art Of Bipartisan Statesmanship

Ask Gleaves Leadership Seminars: The Leadership Life Cycle

Luncheons with Leaders: Bing Goei

Wheelhouse Talks: Fred Antczak

JFK Through Jackie’s Eyes: Jason Duncan

George Bush: Decision Points

Cook Leadership Academy: Leader Lens

Wheelhouse Talks: Luisa Schumacher

Ask Gleaves Leadership Seminar: A More Powerful You

American Conversations: Election 2012 - A Watershed in American History?

Ask Gleaves Leadership Seminars: Olivia Dorgan

Luncheons with Leaders: Chuck Wilbur

Wheelhouse Talks: Yang Kim

Ask Gleaves Leadership Seminars: Are You Happy?

John Hockenberry: On the Tea Party and Election Tuesday

The Untold Story of the U.S. Constitution

The Most Amazing American Founder: Benjamin Franklin

Rosalynn Carter Ending the Mental Health Crisis: Panel

Wheelhouse Talks: Bill Holsinger-Robinson

Wheelhouse Talks: Mark Murray

Luncheons with Leaders: Ed Dobson  - Tough Faith

Is Christianity Good for American Politics?

Wheelhouse Talks: Gretchen Minnhaar

A Fresh Start? Constitutional Convention for Michigan.

Wheelhouse Talks: Rick Devos

Benjamin Franklin: Leader Extraordinaire

Not the Axis of Evil: Dr. Omid Safi

Wheelhouse Talks: Mayra Martinez

The Untold Story of the Constitutional Convention

Ask Gleaves Seminar: Leadership Life Cycle

War President: James Madison – Don Hickey

John Adams: Fortunate Son of Liberty

Ask Gleaves Leadership Seminar: Are You a Leader?

Ask Gleaves Leadership Seminar: Leverage Crisis

Inside the Nixon White House: Ed Cox

Presidency and Philanthropy Conference

The Big Scrum: How TR Saved Football

H.W. Brands - American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900

Luncheons with Leaders: William Noakes - Love and Leadership

Pocketbook Predictions for the 2012 Election: Patrick Anderson

H.W. Brands - American Ulysses: The Journey of General Grant

Michigan 3rd District Republican Debate 2010

Wheelhouse Talks: Andy Dillon

Luncheons with Leaders: Christina Keller

Michigan 3rd District Democratic Debate 2010

Wheelhouse Talks: Marsha Rappley

What Happened to the Future? Lessons from Ancient Athens about Leadership and Its Limits

Eye of the Warrior: Stories From The Vietnam War

Building Your Innate Leadership Skills: H James Williams

COL Ralph W. Hauenstein Fellowship Award Presentation 2011

Why We Still Like Ike


Reagan’s Heroes: A 100th Birthday Celebration

K.V. Lacks on Leadership


Luncheons with Leaders: Jon White

Edward Balog on Leadership


Democracy’s Greatest Leaders: Lincoln & Churchill

Sustainability Summit: Sustainability and the 2010 Election


Luncheons with Leaders: Mary Dailey Brown

Leadership Workshop: Goal Setting, Action Planning


Roundtable Discussion on Juan Cole Presentation


War and Peace: Obama’s America and the Muslim World


Leadership Workshop: Leading Big


Leadership Lessons from ‘AppleGoo'


Russia & the ‘Near Abroad’


Leadership Workshop: Motivation & Reinforcement


Annette Kirk on Leadership


Abraham Lincoln: A Biography - Dr. Ron C. White Jr.


John Truscott on Leadership


Team Leadership: Brian Flanagan


Health Care Reform Summit


Roberts Family on Leadership




Dr. Steven Ealy on Leadership

Presidential Powers and the Bush Administration: Panel III

Bernard Taylor on Leadership

Michigan’s Defining Moment: Community Conversations

Presidential Powers and the Bush Administration: Panel II

Remember the Crossings: Verene A. Shepherd

Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression

Presidential Powers and the Bush Administration: Luncheon

Scholar in Residence: Richard Norton Smith – Day 4

Strenuous Life Leadership

Presidential Powers and the Bush Administration: Keynote

Scholar in Residence: Richard Norton Smith – Day 3

Hauenstein Center Policy Roundtable

Hilary Snell on Leadership

Scholar in Residence: Richard Norton Smith – Day 2

What in the World is Going On? An Intelligence Briefing for GVSU

The First Thing You’ll Notice About Leaders

Scholar in Residence: Richard Norton Smith – Day 1

From Cold War to War on Terror

Bush’s Domestic Policies

George Nash: GVSU’s 3rd Annual Constitution Day

Nothing to Fear? Debating Today’s Economic Recovery

State of the National Security State

TR In Michigan: Theodore & Tweed Roosevelt

Brian Domitrovic on ‘Econoclasts’

Bush’s Staff & Cabinet

H.W. Brands: Franklin Roosevelt - The Life and Times

Amity Shlaes and Jonathan Alter: The Great Depression

Presidential Powers Q & A

Bill Barker: Meet Thomas Jefferson

Michael Flanagan

Evolution of the Bush Presidency

American Conversations: Robert Caro

The Right to Rise: Brian Flanagan

Russ Mawby on Education & Leadership


The Illative Sense

Peter Wege on Leadership


A Constitution Day Event

Mock Presidential Election Roundup


Believing in the American Dream: Abraham Lincoln

Election ’08’s Impact on Michigan


Dr. Gayle Davis on Leadership

Declaration of Energy Independence


LAF Welcome Mixer 2009

Economic Crisis: Causes & Cures


The Kitchen Debate: Nixon & Khrushchev

Elaine Didier on Leadership


Saving the Jews: FDR and the Holocaust

Surviving the Financial Meltdown


Road Scholars: Robert Rosen

Lincoln & Douglas: The Debates That Defined America


Meeting of the Leadership Academy: Chris Barbee

Democracy’s Challenge: Reclaiming the Public Role


Steven Ford on Leadership

McCain or Obama? Michigan Debates Decision 2008


Barack Obama and the Lessons of Antiquity

Dr. Thomas J. Haas on Leadership


H. W. Brands on Leadership

Election 2008: A Pivotal Race


Rev. Robert A. Sirico on Leadership

Leadership Academy Opening Retreat


President Obama’s First 100 Days: A Hauenstein Center Debate

Gerald Ford: A Hero & Leader


Richard Norton Smith on the Hauenstein Center

America on the Road to Defeat: An Election Without Foreign Policy


J. Rufus Fears on the Hauenstein Center

Gerald Ford’s Leadership


Obama in History

Why George Washington Matters


Road Scholars: H. W. Brands

The Electoral College: An Election Year Debate


Hank Meijer on Leadership

Atz Kilcher


Lincoln vs. Douglas

Chico Daniels on Leadership


What Made Lincoln Great?

Hitchens vs. Hitchens: Faith, Politics & War


Maribeth Wardrop

Road Scholars: Sam Goodyear on John Adams


Abraham Lincoln and the Pursuit of Happiness

H.W. Brands: Scholar in Residence


Abraham Lincoln, the Middle East, and the Beginnings of American Empire

Jefferson and Adams: A Play by Howard Ginsberg


The First Thing You’ll Notice About Lincoln

Birgit Klohs on Leadership


American Indians and the Great Emancipator

Ike’s Final Battle: Little Rock and the Challenge of Equality


An Abraham Lincoln Tribute

Richard Breon on Leadership


De(a)dication: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg


Lincolnian Literature


Three Heroic Journeys: Abraham Lincoln and the Power of Myth


Abraham Lincoln: A Full Measure of Greatness


Abraham Lincoln on Leadership





Richard Norton Smith Greatest Hits: Day 4

Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970’s: Yanek Mieczkowski

Religion and the Presidency

Richard Norton Smith Greatest Hits: Day 3

War and Empire: The Conference with H.W. Brands

Theodore Roosevelt: Energy, Courage, Vision with Dr. John Chalberg

Richard Norton Smith Greatest Hits: Day 2

War and Empire: The Conference

Cold Warriors: US Presidents after the Second World War

Richard Norton Smith Greatest Hits: Day 1

War and Empire: The Debate

The 1932 Election and the Fall of Herbert Hoover: George Nash

Henry Kissinger: Where Do We Go From Here?

War and Empire

Andrew Jackson and the American Revolution: H.W. Brands

Jefferson, Bush, and U.S. Wars in the Middle East

60 Years Later: Arthur Vandenberg and the Birth of the United Nations - Gillian Martin Sorensen

Gerald R. Ford's Most Courageous Decision: Pardoning Nixon

Who Is An American?

Honoring Senator Arthur Vandenberg: Statue Dedication

Richard Nixon: Vietnam and Shame of Watergate

Hamilton Lecture Series: The Man Who Made Modern America – Hank Meijer

Reagan’s Path to Victory: Kiron Skinner

Choosing the Next President: Pocketbook Predictions

Hamilton Lecture Series: The Man Who Made Modern America – Gleaves Whitney

Churchill and the Great Republic: James Billington

William B. Allen: George Washington: On the Wrong Side of the Slavery Issue?

Hamilton Lecture Series: The Man Who Made Modern America – James Bratt

The Honorable Henry A. Kissinger

A Day with Eisenhower

Hamilton Lecture Series: The Man Who Made Modern America – John Pinheiro


Who was Herbert Hoover? The Political Odyssey of a Misunderstood Man

Hamilton Lecture Series: The Man Who Made Modern America – Jason Duncan


Calvin Coolidge: More than Two Words

Intelligence Was My Line


Laos: The Untold Story





The Wartime President of the Greatest Generation: Dr. Burton Folsom

The President’s Sharing of Intelligence and Information

Lincoln Lecture Series: Richard Norton Smith

The American President Carries the Burden of the World: Robert Dalek

The President’s Use of Intelligence and Information

Lincoln Lecture Series: Allen Guelzo

George Bush and the 21st-Century Presidency: Dr. Gary Gregg


Lincoln Lecture Series: Douglas Wilson

George Bush and the 21st-Century Presidency: Roger B. Porter


Declaration of Independence Exhibit: Garry Wills


Page last modified September 11, 2023