Ralph Hauenstein Gift

Grand Valley State University President Thomas J. Haas has announced that Ralph W. Hauenstein has made another substantial investment into the university’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.

Hauenstein made the initial investment to begin the center, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The goal of the center is to teach ethical leadership skills to the next generation of leaders while engaging students and the community alike in stimulating conversations about history, politics and the greater civic good. Hauenstein’s $1 million gift will help enhance and expand academic and event-based learning opportunities for the leaders of tomorrow.

“I have ample opportunities to invest in many worthwhile programs and projects, but I can think of no better investment than the one to ensure our future leaders are wise and ethical,” Hauenstein said. “And there’s no better place for me to find that kind of program for our emerging leaders than the one Gleaves Whitney is so ably running at Grand Valley State University. I’m incredibly proud of the work he and the center are doing. We’re seeing the fruits in the young people who have been mentored in the program and are out taking their place in the world.”

Hauenstein served under General Dwight D. Eisenhower in an intelligence role in WWII and was one of the first Americans into liberated Paris. He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm and Legion of Honor. The U.K. awarded him its Order of the British Empire. Hauenstein served as the editor of the Grand Rapids Herald before WWII, and became successful in business after the war. He owned Werner Lehara of Grand Rapids, a food equipment manufacturer that produced Goldfish crackers, Andes mints, windmill cookies, pastas, and many other foods familiar to Americans. At the age of 101, Hauenstein has never retired and continues his philanthropic endeavors throughout West Michigan.

“The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies is an incubator for leaders of the future, and Colonel Hauenstein’s investment into the Center for Presidential Studies ensures our ability to continue to do good, meaningful work in the world of leadership and ethics,” Haas said. “On top of his initial gift, this is a very substantial commitment to the center on its 10th anniversary from a very involved philanthropist and friend.”

Students who have benefitted from the Hauenstein Center’s mission of ethical leadership development currently occupy prominent roles in business, government, communications and

The Hauenstein Center has hosted hundreds of programs over the past 10 years, including notable events like Hitchens v. Hitchens, presentations by several first ladies, Madeleine Albright, General Brent Scowcroft, and many others. Quality programming dedicated to discussing the civic good and political common ground is ongoing, including upcoming presentations by former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe and a discussion about leadership hosted by Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell.

“Ralph Hauenstein’s remarkable life of leadership and service inspires everything we do, and we are deeply honored to have his generous support,” said Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center. “With Ralph’s gift, we can build on our successes of the past 10 years to strengthen our Common Ground Initiative and leadership programs. None of this would be possible without Ralph, who steadfastly supports our efforts to form ethical, effective leaders who can make a difference in our communities.”

Page last modified November 13, 2020