A18 / SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2013 / THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
GVSU unveils statue of L. William Seidman during Founder’s Day By Brian McVicar
In an effort to honor its founders, Grand Valley State University on Thursday unveiled a sculpture of L. William Seidman, the Grand Rapids businessman who largely is credited for leading the charge to create the college. Speaking to a crowd of community leaders, students, faculty and staff, GVSU President Thomas Haas reflected on Seidman’s legacy, saying the former economic adviser to President Gerald Ford saw a four-year university was needed to develop a skilled workforce in West Michigan. More than 50 years later, that need hasn’t diminished, Haas said. “This year, in 2013, we’re hearing from our state and across the nation that we need to shape that talent necessary for our economic vitality and security,” he said. “It hasn’t changed.” The statue, created by artist J. Brett Grill, is part of an annual effort to honor Seidman, who died in 2009, and the other community leaders who raised the $1 million required to receive legislative support to create GVSU. Founded in 1960, GVSU was Michigan’s 10th state-
A close-up of the Siedman sculpture.
People admire a statue of L. William Seidman, Grand Valley State University’s founder, during the inaugural Founders Day event Thursday near the Cook Carillon Tower. (Lauren Petracca/MLive.com)
supported college, enrolling its first class of 226 students three years later. Today, the university educates more than 24,000 students and is among the largest public universities
in the state. And, just as the fundraising by Seidman — whose name graces the university’s business school — was needed to create GVSU, philanthropy
remains important to GVSU’s growth, Haas said. “The donor community here is remarkable, not just for Grand Valley State University, but for much of
what we see here in Grand Rapids and West Michigan,” he said. “We would not be the university we are today without the great support of those founders back in 1958
through 1960.” The event, known as Founders Day, drew a host of supporters of GVSU, including Seidman’s son, Tom, who said he hopes the statue shows students that if they persevere, they can accomplish their goals — just as his father overcame obstacles and achieved his goal of helping create a university. “If you’ve got a dream, if you’ve got something that you want to make happen, you can do it,” said Tom Seidman, who lives in Los Angeles and works in the film industry. “If you put your energy and focus into it, it creates energy around it and stuff happens.”
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