Letter from the President

Thomas J. Haas, PhD

In 2013, Grand Valley State University received a remarkable donation of 35 works of twentieth century art from the Stuart & Barbara Padnos Foundation. Businessman and philanthropist Stuart Padnos and his wife, Barbara, thoughtfully amassed a notable art collection throughout their long marriage that filled their waterfront home on Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan. The art included paintings, works on paper, graphic art and sculpture, all of which are photographed and documented in detail in this online catalog. 

This gift is the most recent chapter of the Padnos family’s long and rich history of involvement, support and leadership at GVSU, which includes the establishment of the Barbara H. Padnos International Scholarship for Grand Valley students studying abroad. In 2005, Stuart Padnos established the Stuart and Barbara Padnos Chair in Art and Design to advance the teaching of studio art at the university. The exhibition space in the Calder Art Center was named in their honor in recognition of the couple's generosity and commitment to the visual arts. These join many other examples of support of the university by the extended Padnos family spanning many decades, including Shelley Padnos’ current service as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and her recent service as chair of the Board. As evidenced by this gift, the university’s extensive program of exhibiting art in all arenas of academic life is important to the Padnos family.

Our art program is unusual in its breadth, size and scope. I was very gratified when the program was called out for special recognition in the summary report from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges & Schools during GVSU’s recent reaccreditation visit of our university. The committee members noted, “At GVSU, artwork is an integral part of every building and public place. Nearly every interview with campus constituents reveals a deep appreciation for the artwork on display. A wide variety of mediums are displayed, from sculpture to blown glass, drawings and paintings. Over 8,000 works of art appears on the walls, in common spaces, even in the restrooms, up from 700 just ten years ago. Benefits cited include quality of life and recruitment value. The rationale for featuring art so predominately is that art makes students think, whether they like a particular work or not. Many of the pieces are purchased from GVSU students during their senior shows, benefitting both the university and the students.” I am very grateful that Stuart and Barbara Padnos’ shared passion for art has become a legacy for our students, faculty and staff and visitors to our campuses that can be enjoyed and treasured every day, reminding us all of the power of art to get us to stop, wonder and think.



Grand Valley State University
2006 – Present

Thomas J. Haas