Richard Norton Smith, American presidency expert, Hank Meijer to discuss President Gerald R. Ford at Albion College April 18

March 27, 2023

By Ward Mullens

Students of the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service at Albion College are referred to as “Fordies.”

Then there are “Fordies,” such as author Richard Norton Smith and Hank Meijer.

Smith, a leading author on the American presidency, and Meijer, the executive chairman of Meijer Inc., will discuss the life of President Gerald R. Ford Tuesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in Upper Baldwin on the Albion College campus.

The event, sponsored by the Albion College’s Ford Institute, will focus on Smith’s new book, An Ordinary Man: The Surprising Life and Historic Presidency of Gerald R. Ford, due to be released April 11, 2023.

The night will feature the discussion at 7 p.m. in Upper Baldwin and a reception and book signing immediately following. The discussion and book signing are open to the public though RSVPs are appreciated. To RSVP, email [email protected].

“We couldn’t be more excited about bringing Richard Norton Smith and Hank Meijer to campus to celebrate the leadership legacy of President Ford,” said Ford Institute director Carrie Walling. “It’s thrilling that we will close out this academic year with an opportunity for our students to learn so much about President Ford from some of the people who knew him best. President Ford’s leadership shows us that ordinary people can become extraordinary leaders when they are guided by principle, stand on broadly shared values, respect people and their differences, lead with integrity and put service ahead of self.”

“I am looking forward to hearing stories about President Ford that few have heard,” said Joe Calvaruso, interim president of Albion College and former executive director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. “This is intriguing because Richard Norton Smith has spent years digging up stories that no one knows, and he tells those stories in a style that only he can.”

Smith’s first major book, Thomas E. Dewey and His Times, was a finalist for the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. His other works include An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover (1984); On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller; and Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation (1993). The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick received the Goldsmith Prize awarded from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Smith is a familiar face to viewers of C-SPAN and The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.

Between 1987 and 2001, Smith served as director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in Iowa; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Center in Kansas; the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Presidential Foundation and the Reagan Center for Public Affairs in California; and the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library in Grand Rapids respectively.

Following graduation from Harvard in 1975, he worked as a White House intern and speech writer for Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke. In 1979 he went to work for Senator Bob Dole, with whom he collaborated on several volumes of autobiography and political humor.

Meijer is the executive chairman of Meijer, Inc. and the vice chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, serves on the executive committees of the Food Marketing Institute and the National Constitution Center and is a member of both the University of Michigan President’s Advisory Group and the Ford School of Public Policy board of advisors.

Meijer and his family were close friends of President and Mrs. Ford. He is the author of America’s Senator — The Unexpected Odyssey of Arthur Vandenberg. Smith also interviewed Meijer in May 2010 for the Gerald R. Ford Oral History Project.