Presidents Choice

January 9, 2006
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The news that MarkMurray is leaving the presidency of Grand Valley State University isn't a huge surprise, nor is his return to the big-money corporate world (Meijer Inc.).

What might be surprising, however, is some of the candidates in line to replace the former state treasurer.

(Warning: Some of these are serious; others are not. You choose.)

How about a straight-up Murray for HankMeijer deal? Each sits on the board of the other's institution, so they know the ins and outs of the respective organizations. And Meijer is an intellectual type, a big-picture thinker with tons of contacts in the business world. He has a good heart and would be a nice fit in the less frantic world of higher education. Plus, the broadcast center already bears his name.

Current GVSU Provost GayleDavis has a long and distinguished academic record and was lured here just a few years ago to add an educational slant to Murray's business and finance background. Business leaders call her "a dynamo."

Arend "Don" Lubbers put GVSU on the map. Maybe he's had enough of this retirement thing and is willing to lead the Lakers once again.

Or maybe the position can be split in half, with a president for the Allendale campus and a counterpart for the Pew Campus in GR. If that's the case, let's take a hard look at former Mayor JohnLogie, who still is adept at following the money and has plenty of influential friends behind him.

Speaking of politicians, State Sen. KenSikkema is term-limited. He could actually work from home, as he might be equal distances from downtown and Allendale. Might he be interested in the world of academia? A cursory glance at local college presidents shows that not every one of them came up through the academic side.

CarolLopucki has a tremendous public/private background as state director of the SmallBusinessDevelopment & TechnologyCenter. Plus, she already knows her way around campus.

How about DickDeVos, if he should lose the gubernatorial seat in this election. His name is evident around campus, too.

If the shoe falls the other way, JenniferGranholm would make a good choice with her background in state politics and international business. (Is studying in Canada really considered "abroad" for most college students?)

  • As reported last week in the Business Journal's online edition, GRBJExpress (www.grbj.com), David Hollisterdirector of the state's Department of Labor and Economic Development, will step down Feb. 3.

Hollister, a 20-year-legislative veteran and mayor of Lansing for 10 years, was tapped by Granholm to lead the state's job growth plans in 2003. Apparently, Hollister is the first victim of Granholm's upcoming re-election battle against West Michigan billionaire DickDeVos.

Hollister, a 63-year-old with Parkinson's disease, admitted that although his health "is reasonably good," he wasn't looking forward to the stress of the coming year. Instead, he will take over the reins of Prima Civitas Inc., a new Lansing-area economic develop group similar in design to Grand Rapids' The Right Place Inc.

  • Whispers around City Hall are that two longtime fixtures at commission meetings, City Manager KurtKimball and legal counsel PhilBalkema, have at least jokingly talked of retirement. Nothing official, mind you, but the thoughts apparently have crossed both men's minds.

Apparently the "give us one more year" forces were marshaled, and the two city stalwarts will spend the next several months trying to kick the city's "financial morass."

Should Kimball, the city's longest-tenured manager ever, decide to leave, it would open up some interesting possibilities. Remember when Logie surfaced the strong-mayor form of government? It was shot down partially due to Kimball's experience.

With LynnRabaut leaving her commission seat, might her name come up as a potential replacement? Possibly, because she's got the experience and smarts, but it looks like her desires are elsewhere. Although Rabaut has said she wants to stay involved with the city, her talents might better lead her to planning and development.

  • Earlier this year, the greasy staple of West Side diets, the Red Lion restaurant, closed its doors. Soon after, the pricey
    Lake Drive
    fixture, Gibson's Grapevine, followed suit.

Last week, it became apparent that The Schnitzelbank Restaurant may soon meet the fate of the Michigan Street Burger King (a hospital's wrecking ball).

This week: Rosie's Diner.

Less than a year after original owner Jerry Berta reclaimed day-to-day operations, the company is back on the auction block. The famous Rockford restaurant, complete with bar and gift shop, will be sold to the highest bidder on Jan. 31.

Included in the one-item auction are three diners, 4.5 acres of commercial property on

14 Mile Road
and a Class C liquor license.

At this rate, it would appear that any local diner who has yet to visit any of West Michigan's landmark eating establishments should do so now.

For starters, the Business Journal suggests the Choo Choo Grill and Fat Boy Burgers on

Plainfield Avenue
, The Beltline Bar on
South Division Avenue
, The Corner Bar in Rockford, Honey Creek Inn in Cannonsburg, The Cottage Bar and Restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids, Rose's on ReedsLake in East Grand Rapids, and the Grandvilla Dungeon in Grandville.

  • FYI: We received another missive from FMRMAYR last week in which he managed to use the word "bowdlerize." Very nice. He's not mad, and might even be bordering on conciliatory, so feel free not to send in letters on his behalf. In return, we'll save you a trip to the dictionary. It means "to expurgate prudishly." Duh.    

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