GVSU’s new center built on Seidmans foresight and dedication

May 23, 2011
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Grand Valley State University this week will break ground for the new L. William Seidman Center, augmenting the university’s Seidman College of  Business, a process that began with a bequeath from the school’s namesake, William “Bill” Seidman. The facility will include a center for entrepreneurial study — a school of choice for growing numbers of students and one heartily welcomed by business leaders here and across the country.

Seidman’s gift, however, is larger than the monetary measure of the lead donation. His life to the last week was one that inspires and to which others are drawn to aspire. He joined his father’s business, an accounting firm he led to become BDO Seidman, which remains headquartered in Grand Rapids. He was an American economist, head of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., an economic advisor to U.S. presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as a financial commentator for national networks through the end of his life. In this recession recovery time, it is important to note he also headed the Resolution Trust Corp., which worked to correct the savings and loan crisis between 1988 and 1991.

The Business Journal finds it especially fitting that Seidman is honored as the region is fully encompassed by a new economy given to the creative class, the inventors and the designers of the information age. No book of fixes existed during the S&L crisis, until Seidman wrote it. That a public accounting firm in Grand Rapids could grow to become a worldwide agency demonstrates a powerful entrepreneurial skill. That he was one of the founders of Grand Valley State University is a testament to his foresight of the necessity of higher education and the economic boost it provides in this region for the knowledge workers now fervently recruited.

Seidman’s thoughtful — and intentional — commentary was highly regarded and sought by national media. He might have enjoyed the TEDx adventure in Grand Rapids two weeks ago, a discussion to encourage out-of-the-box thinking, thereby stimulating new innovation.

The Business Journal this week reports on a survey being conducted by Plante & Moran and NewNorth Center in Holland to measure business leaders’ attitudes toward innovation, its business value, drivers and catalysts and variables. The survey recipients are located in three states and include the support of economic development agencies and chambers of commerce.

The survey will provide a more scientific evidence paper for the commonly perceived need for creative thinkers. Such need was predicted even as Seidman helped to found the university more than 50 years ago, and one to which its mission is dedicated.

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