Albion Interactive History / Library / Gerstacker Grant Speech (2000)

Albion Interactive History

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Peter Mitchell, “Gerstacker Grant Speech”, September 23, 2000

Announcement was made at the Victory Park picnic pavilion in Albion, Michigan. Several picnic tables were in the pavilion for the community/college tail gate party. At the south end of the pavilion was a podium, with the Albion College seal on the front of it. An Albion College banner hung in the background. Various leaders from the community and college were present, in addition to several residents of Albion and college students. There was a undercurrent of chatter outside the pavilion as the announcement was being given. Dr.Mitchell’s address was followed by a brief address from the mayor of Albion.

Comments by Dr. Mitchell
I am Peter Mitchell and I have the privilege of being both an Albion graduate class of ’67 and returning 30 years later to be the 14th president of Albion College [applause]. We have called this special press conference and celebration to make a very important announcement relevant to the college and community. This is the fourth annual community day. A celebration of the close bond between Albion College and the fine people of Albion, Michigan. What we believe is truly one of the finest small towns in the United States [applause].

We are a place that attracts significant interest from outside our city limits. And today I am here to announce a $2 million grant that has been given to Albion College. Half of that grant will be used to take our Carl. A Gerstacker Institute in Professional Management in the liberal arts from a regional to a national model. The grant has come from the Roland M Gerstacker Foundation. And indeed, that is in and of itself a cause for celebration. But the real reason I am here is an even more exciting component.

The Roland. M Gerstacker foundation has committed a million dollars to Albion College to invest exclusively in the economic and cultural development of the city of Albion. They see in this very special community, extraordinary unity, remarkable diversity, and a real passion for being a model small town in America. To my knowledge this is the largest gift of its kind in the state of Michigan, and certainly the largest gift of its kind to Albion College, and the largest from the Gerstacker Foundation.

Carl A. Gerstacker was for many years was the driving force on the board of trustees at Albion College, a resident of Midland, MI, an entrepreneur with Dow Chemical, and one of the founders of Chemical Bank [ read Banking section ]. An extraordinarily gifted and visionary businessman and entrepreneur. He believed in Albion College with great passion. We have the Roland M. Gerstacker International House, we have the Gerstacker program in business and the liberal arts, and now through this grant we have an opportunity to take this community with so many tremendous people, so many clever ideas, so many progressive dreams, and have the resources now to fund those new initiatives.

A million dollars over the next five years will be invested in high yield programs and ideas that will distinguish Albion as truly one of the finest small towns in our nation. It is an affirmation of the people in this room, of the vision of this community, and talk about doing the smart thing. We went to this foundation not for Albion College, we went to them with the belief that with just enough resources that we could leverage, we could do amazing things in the city of Albion.

There are several projects that are on the drawing boards now. We have a great idea for an interactive Children’s museum, the art community is talking about a gallery for the over 60 practicing artists in the greater Albion area, our business folks are telling us that a cyber café would distinguish Albion as a high-tech, high-touch kind of community, and we would draw those kinds of people who are interested in e-business and e-commerce, the prospect of providing opportunities for our Gerstacker students to serve as consultants to small businesses that want to grow, or to create an incubator for small businesses to develop. These are just a few of the possible initiatives.

We will be forming an advisory board of prominent business and civic leaders in our community to advise me and the college in the appropriate investment. The Gerstacker Foundation has requested we use every dollar to leverage at least one dollar more. I am convinced that this million dollars will turn into two, three, and probably four million dollars of investment, in the lives, the hearts and dreams of the people of Albion, Michigan. So this is an extraordinary day for the college, but more importantly it is meant to answer the Jerry MacGuire question, ok Albion people, ok Albion College, you talk about doing great things, show me the money.

I am showing you a million dollars that we will invest in our selves, in our future, and in our children so that we will have the kind of community that people not only grow up in, but stay in and make important contributions throughout their lifetime. It is indeed a seminal moment in the life of Albion College, and we hope this is indeed a harbinger of great things to happen in the community of Albion. And I am so pleased you have come to celebrate this good news with us.

Comments by Mayor Bill Wheaton
I don’t know what to say. I would like to thank Dr.Mitchell and the Gerstacker Foundation. This is a fine opportunity to be mayor of Albion. I tell you, I got two more years to go. The community showed last week at the Festival of the Forks, and working with our sister city from France, that this community does come together in one big unit and I am sure this will continue for the city of Albion.