Free Enterprise Institute Faculty

Gleaves Whitney

Gleaves Whitney became director of Grand Valley State University's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies in 2003.  During his tenure he has been thearchitect of more than 200 public programs, including four national conferences covered by C-SPAN, and three internationally web cast debates -- one to more than 3,500 viewers in eighteen countries, and another watched on YouTube by more than 65,000 people in some 30 nations on all six inhabited continents.  He has overseen tremendous growth of the Hauenstein Center's website, premiered a popular web column called Ask Gleaves -- the first presidential Q & A column in the nation -- and created a leadership academy for students and young professionals committed to public service.

"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," he continued.  "You can tell this by the growth in the Hauenstein Center over the six years that he*s been the director."

"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," said historian Richard Norton Smith.  "The Hauenstein Center is a jewel in the crown of Michigan."

Prior to his arrival at Grand Valley, Gleaves worked 11 years in Michigan Governor John Engler's administration, serving as senior writer, chief speechwriter, and historian.  In 1993, the governor assigned him to a task force that helped bring sweeping education and school finance reforms to Michigan that The New York Times called "the most dramatic in the nation."

In addition to his public work, Gleaves is a scholar who writes and lectures nationally on a variety of historical topics.  He is author or editor of 14 books including most recently (with Mark Rozell) Religion and the American Presidency and Religion and the Bush Presidency.  Other books include American Presidents: Farewell Addresses to the Nation, 1796-2001; John Engler: The Man, the Leader & the Legacy; and 6 volumes of Messages of the Governors of Michigan.  Another book on the Bush presidency, based on a Hauenstein Center conference he organized, is forthcoming.

In 2008, Gleaves and a Hauenstein Center team were awarded a Mawby fellowship to explore the connection between philanthropy and the American presidency.  He has been appointed to Michigan's Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee, a two-year effort charged with helping the state celebrate our 16th president's contributions to the nation. He served on the Arthur Vandenberg Memorial Committee and is presently partnering with M. W. Grass Strategic Communications and Meijer Inc. President Hendrik Meijer to produce a documentary film on Michigan's famous senator.  Also, Gleaves is a senior scholar at the Center for the American Idea in Houston, Texas, and he is the first senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.  Several of his talks have appeared on C-SPAN; his commentary has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and journals; and he has been interviewed by, among others, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, FOX News, Newsweek, US News & World Report, and NPR affiliates.

In his current position as director of the Hauenstein Center, he has cultivated many institutional partnerships -- e.g., the National Park Service, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum -- and numerous ongoing professional partnerships -- e.g., H. W. Brands, Richard Norton Smith, William Barker, and George Nash.

Gleaves graduated with honors from Colorado State University (1980), was elected into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society (1980), and was a Fulbright scholar in Germany (1984-85).  His master's degree and doctoral candidacy

 were at the University of Michigan, where he was a Richard M. Weaver fellow (1987-88) and an H. B. Earhart Fellow (1988-91).  He has taught at the University of Michigan, Droste-Hulshof Gymnasium, Colorado State University, Aquinas College, and Grand Valley State University.  In 2006, he received the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California.

Gleaves was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and now makes his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Return to Faculty

Return to Academic Advisors