Saginaw Valley State University has awarded the 2018-2019 Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Award for Literature to Hendrik Meijer for his book “Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century,” published by the University of Chicago Press. The award is part of SVSU's community-minded commitment to recognize exceptional writing within Michigan.
The book describes the career of Arthur H. Vandenberg, whose ascent from influential Grand Rapids newspaper editor to long-serving U.S. Senator from Michigan made him a participant in some of the most important domestic and foreign policy decisions of the 20th century.
Initially opposed to the New Deal and to involvement with the European allies at the start of World War II, Vandenberg understood the momentous changes taking place and became a leader in the Senate for bipartisan cooperation and consensus. Formed by his early years in Michigan and returning frequently to the state, he also played a significant role on the world stage. Vandenberg was instrumental in the formation of the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, and NATO, institutions which guided U.S. foreign policy for decades.
Meijer graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in literature and worked as a reporter and editor before joining Meijer, Inc., where he is executive chairman.
Meijer will visit SVSU in the early months of 2019, when he will accept the award as well as visit classes on campus. He will also receive a $1,000 prize.
Established by the late Stuart D. Gross and his wife, Vernice, the Gross Award for Literature is administered by SVSU. It is granted to published works in regional history or historical fiction/drama. Preference is given to Michigan subject matter or strong Michigan connections on the part of the author.
Winners are selected by a panel of judges from SVSU's faculty and staff. Judges this year were Ashley Blinstrub, research and assessment librarian; M. Patricia Cavanaugh, professor of English; Jules Gehrke, associate professor of history; Carlos Ramet, associate dean of the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences; and Michelle Strasz, research & online course support librarian.
Employed for many years as a journalist with The Saginaw News, Gross joined the SVSU staff in the school's early years and served in a variety of public affairs roles. He was recognized as a regional historian and published several books. Among his writings are, “Saginaw: A History of the Land and City,” “When Timber was King,” and “Where There is a Will.” Following his retirement from SVSU, Gross wrote and produced a play, “Let's Have Lunch Sometime.” He died in 1996; Mrs. Gross in 2001.