Written by Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP, on May 2006 at the Induction in the College of Fellows
Gleaves Whitney, father, author, scholar, public servant, university administrator, faithful son of the Church, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology salutes you.
In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam Actuositatem, we read that “Catholics should try to cooperate with all men and women of good will to promote whatever is true, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable (cf. Phil. 4.8). They should hold discussions with them, excel them in prudence and courtesy, and initiate research on social and public practices which should be improved in line with the spirit of the Gospel” (Apostolicam Actuositatem 4 ). In your career you have undertaken this work, enjoined by Vatican Council II, seeking to instill in your students and readers a confidence in our common moral heritage and in the political and civil institutions that serve us.
You have combined your academic work in history with public service. For eleven years you served as chief speechwriter and historian in Michigan Governor John Engler's administration. At the request of Governor Engler you served in 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.”
You have authored or edited eleven books on historical subjects and your work has appeared inthe New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Review, Christian Science Monitor, Vital Speeches of the Day, Crisis, Modern Age, Intercollegiate Review, University Bookman, and Policy Review. You have insisted upon the importance in public discourse of what you have called “the Permanent Things,” the transcendentals that are truth, beauty and goodness. You have opposed the cynicism that threatens contemporary political discourse, and have reminded us of our obligation to undertake our public responsibilities with courage.
Since 2003, you have served as the director of Grand Valley State University's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, whose purpose is to advance discussion of the U.S. presidency among scholars, government leaders, student leaders, and the public. During your tenure you have been the architect of more than twenty programs, including two national conferences. You have overseen tremendous growth of the Hauenstein Center's work and have created a leadership academy for students and young professionals committed to public service.
In addition to your work at the Hauenstein Center, you serve as a senior scholar at the Center for the American Idea in Houston, Texas, and are the first senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.
We are delighted that you have generously offered to collaborate with us as a Fellow of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology.
Therefore, as an expression of our esteem and gratitude, and in virtue of the authority invested in me by the Board of Trustees of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, I am privileged to bestow upon you, Gleaves Whitney, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa, and to name you as a Fellow of the School.