Many tributes have correctly noted Haenicke's accomplishments as President of Western. Western became a research university thanks in large part to his efforts, several major buildings were built or renovated on campus during his tenure, Western attracted a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and more.
Others have noted his distinguished record of scholarship. While I haven't personally evaluated it, I'm sure that it's everything people say it is.
Still others have noted his community involvement. He was active with many fine organizations, and wrote a popular column for the Gazette.
Most commonly, people have remarked what a wonderful person he was. The consensus is that he was genuinely warm and caring, witty and charming.
This post will focus on an aspect of Dr. Haenicke that was less known: his politics.
Haenicke was a dues-paying member of the Republican party. He was a frequent donor to Republican candidates and he endorsed State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk during his 2006 primary campaign.
Haenicke was a conservative on issues related to education.
He supported the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative to end racial preferrences in college admissions in 2006. He was not outspoken about it after his sudden assumption of the interim presidency, but he resisted efforts to oppose it. That made him a very rare (unique?) university president to oppose racial preferrences.
Haenicke took a variety of steps to save money on campus while improving services.
Haenicke made wise financial decisions that eliminated unnecessary expenditures. He canceled the purchase of a building from Pfizer that would have cost $2 million per year to operate. He also reversed Bailey's decision to give free room and board to Kalamazoo Promise students, who already get full ride scholarships.He opposed the radical left in education, as in this column on Bill Ayers.
At the same time, Haenicke also improved student services. He reopened the Ombudsman's office, which had been closed by Bailey. He also significantly increased library hours. His administration was responsive to the suggestions of the Western Student Association on that and other issues. He worked to improve services to students by requiring administrators to answer their phones.
He cancelled the "First Steps Scholars" program to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
Also rare among college administrators, he did not bow before the idol of diversity, and did not pander to racial pressure groups.
After his talk, I approached him and told him how I, as a Muslim, was offended by his remarks. He replied, unapologetically, with a smile: "Of course you are.'' President Haenicke, when you deny the humanity of another, you diminish your own. [author's note: hahahahahahaha!]Haenicke was a friend of the WMU College Republicans. He devoted one of his Gazette columns to praising the group.
I sat next to Jim, a WMU criminal justice major from Ann Arbor, a bright, well-spoken and well-mannered young man. I asked him what his guess was regarding the political leanings of students on our campus. He thought that it was 50-50, with the liberal half being very outspoken and visible in classes and the conservative half smartly holding back in class discussions and public pronouncements. They know that their opinions are not popular with many of their teachers. My own observation is that Jim has it right, but it is a guess.I heard Haenicke speak a number of times, but only met him once. It was at Bronco Bash, when he walked up to our College Republican table. He shook hands with us and we exchanged a few words.
Since conservative views are so seldom heard on campus, the College Republicans must be thanked. Under the fine leadership of Matt Hall and Ashley Allen, who both served as presidents of this student group, they have invited to campus, year after year, conservative speakers who address controversial issues that usually trigger horror among academics: affirmative action, racial preferences, illegal immigration, campus speech codes, and other such hot-button topics.
Ward Connerly, the African-American who fought for abolishing racial preferences in California, spoke here, as did Justice Roy Moore who placed a monument with the Ten Commandments in his Alabama courthouse, and Dinesh D'Souza, Pat Buchanan, Michelle Malkin, Reginald Jones, and Alan Kors, the noted Princeton- and Harvard-educated historian who gained national prominence for defending the academic rights of students.
I'll miss Dr. Haenicke, and I know I'm far from the only one.
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