Gleaves Whitney began his role as executive director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation on September 1, 2020. He is the fourth person to lead the Foundation as it fosters increased awareness of the life, career, values, and legacy of America’s 38th President.
“Gleaves has a strong background developing successful collaborations and partnerships, which will be beneficial for the Foundation’s relationships with the National Archives and Records Administration, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Library, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, as well as Grand Rapids community and nationwide entities,” said Foundation Chair Mike Ford, son of President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford.
Gleaves Whitney was the director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies from 2003 until his selection as the Foundation’s Executive Director. Receiving a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2012, he established the first sustained and comprehensive common ground initiative in U.S. higher education. Since 2015 he has worked with his colleague Jon Lauck to revive Midwestern history as an academic discipline; together they have hosted six major conferences and edited four books. In addition, Gleaves launched the first presidential Q&A column in the nation, Ask Gleaves, in which he fielded questions from political junkies around the world. Under his direction, the Hauenstein Center’s Cook Leadership Academy has become a premiere center for leadership excellence. The fellow candidates have met with four U.S. Presidents, three First Ladies, two Vice Presidents, four Secretaries of State, one U.N. ambassador, more than one dozen state governors, and a host of business and non-profit entrepreneurs. For more about Gleaves’s work with Ralph Hauenstein, click here.
“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 directing 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.
Gleaves was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) and inducted in the College of Fellows in 2006 at the Graduate Theological Union’s Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. He earned an MA in history and is ABD toward the PhD at the University of Michigan. For more about his doctoral work at Michigan, click here. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Colorado State University.