March 7, 2012
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The decades-long relationship between President Gerald Ford and Albion College entered a new chapter this evening with the unveiling of a bronze sculpture of the President that will be permanently housed at the College's Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service.
The event at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum featured Susan Ford Bales, daughter of Gerald and Betty Ford, and Albion College President Donna Randall revealing the one-third-size replica, or maquette, of the life-size statue that was dedicated in May 2011 in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington.
"The statue is more than just a piece of metal. It's a lasting remembrance of the life and values of one we deeply admire," Ford Bales said. "Tonight, we unveil this first maquette of Dad's Rotunda statue. May it remind us of a leader for whom truth was the guiding beacon and of a man whose respect for Albion College was and will forever be boundless."
Randall emphasized Ford's advocacy for education throughout his life, in particular his commitment to providing access for all to a high-quality education during his time as President.
"At Albion, we like to think his establishment of what is now the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service is one of his very best contributions to education in this country—it shows his extraordinary dedication to preparing our young people for a life of leadership, civic engagement, and service to others."
Along with Bales and Randall, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, '71, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation Executive Director Joseph Calvaruso, '78, and Ford Institute member Johanna Schulte, '15, offered remarks during the program.
President Ford's relationship with Albion dates back to 1963 when he became a member of the College's Board of Trustees while he was a U.S. Congressman. He served on the board for five years. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1965. The establishment of the Ford Institute was announced by President Ford on Albion's campus in October 1977, and the program opened its doors to students shortly thereafter.
The nation's first educational program to be named for President Ford, the institute enables undergraduate students to explore policy issues more fully and prepares future leaders through coursework, service, internships, and personal mentoring. Now as it approaches the 35th anniversary of its founding, the institute counts more than 700 graduates who have gone on to careers in public service at all levels, as well as in law, journalism, social services, education, and many other fields.
"As President Ford envisioned, the institute represents opportunity—opportunity for students to grow beyond the classroom," said Schulte, a Grand Rapids native who worked on several projects at the museum last summer, including the coordination of Mrs. Ford's funeral. "As a student at Albion, I see firsthand how the faculty develop special bonds with their students and care about each one's personal, academic, and professional development."
Calvaruso, a member of the College's Board of Trustees, helped make possible the presentation of the maquette to Albion College, along with a number of alumni and friends of the College.
A permanent-installation dedication ceremony will be held March 14 at 5:30 p.m. outside the Ford Institute's office in Robinson Hall, which anchors the east end of the campus quadrangle.