Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Jack Dempsey Joins Clarke Board of Governors

by Frank Boles

Since 1956, the Clarke Historical Library has operated with a Board of Governors. The Board plays an important role in the library’s operation, with a definition of the Board’s formal authority vested in an agreement signed by Central Michigan University and the Clarke family. The Board’s influence, however, goes beyond the letter of the agreement, to include a wide-ranging advisory capacity which helps to determine the library’s mission, collecting policy, outreach activities, and the other aspects of library operations.

At its April 2016 meeting, the Clarke Historical Library Board of Governors recommended to the CMU Board of Trustees that John “Jack” Dempsey be elected to serve a five year term on the Clarke Board.

Jack Dempsey is an avid historian, two-term President of the Michigan Historical Commission, and award-winning author. His writing focuses on the Civil War, the history of Michigan, and cultural heritage. His co-authored book Ink Trails: Michigan’s Famous and Forgotten Authors, was named a Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan in 2013.

Mr. Dempsey’s book presentations have been featured at the Henry Ford, the Historical Society of Michigan, the Kerrytown Book Fest, historical museums, public libraries, Civil War round tables, in schools, and on public television and radio, as well as here at Central Michigan University.

Jack has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Michigan State University and a law degree from George Washington University. His legal career includes service as a Law Review editor, Assistant Attorney General, and corporate general counsel. Jack is a partner in the Ann Arbor office of Dickinson Wright PLLC.

He lives in Plymouth, Michigan.

At the same meeting of the Clarke Historical Library Board of Governors, Sandra Planisek was elected to serve as the Board’s chair during calendar year 2016. She and Michael Federspiel will join the executive committee, which also includes Norman Clarke, III and CMU President George Ross. Additional elected Board members include Susan Clarke and Robert Kohrman. In addition to the President, the ex-officio members are Frank Boles, Director of the Clarke Library, Mitchell Hall, Chair of the CMU History Department, and Thomas Moore, Dean of CMU Libraries.

Mr. Dempsey replaced Kenneth Winter, a past editor of the Petoskey News-Review, who retired from the Board after completing a five year term of service. Other past elected members have included the well-known political philosopher Dr. Russell Kirk, former United States Senator and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert Griffin, former Archivist of the United States Robert Warner, Grand Rapids’ longest serving mayor, John Logie, and the co-chairman and CEO of Meijer, Inc. Hank Meijer.

Two years after the Clarke Historical Library was founded, Central Michigan College and the Clarke family agreed to create a ten-person Board of Governors. The Board membership consists of a representative of the Clarke family, five members who are selected by the Board itself, subject to confirmation by the CMU Board of Trustees (the University’s governing body) and four ex officio members: the President of the University, the Dean of Libraries, the chair of the History Department, and the Director of the Clarke Historical Library (although the Director is in some documents referred to as the “Custodian,” which sometimes gives me pause about the true nature of my job).

The criteria for selected members elected to the Board states that members should be “persons who are collectors of original historical materials or are interested in or associated with historical research in American History and who have demonstrated a dedicated interest in history.”