Olivet College will recognize David Hollister, former educator, Michigan representative and mayor of Lansing, with the degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, during Commencement ceremonies. The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place Saturday, May 17 at 1 p.m. in the college’s Cutler Event Center.
Hollister is currently CEO of Hollister Solutions LLC, providing consulting services on a part-time basis in the areas of economic development, state and local government, public-private partnerships, and lifelong learning. Most recently, he has provided consulting services to the Flint Genesee Chamber of Commerce and Flint Area Reinvestment Office and chaired Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s Fiscal Health Initiative.
Hollister began his public service career as a high school teacher. He taught government, history and economics for both the Lansing and Durand school systems and spent the summers of 1966 and 1968 as a volunteer teacher in the Mississippi Freedom Schools in Holly Springs, Miss. While working as a full-time teacher, Hollister was elected to the Ingham County Commission in 1968 and served until 1974.
Also in 1974, Hollister was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, where he served until 1993. He served on the powerful appropriations committee and chaired the social services appropriations subcommittee for more than a decade. Hollister sponsored and was instrumental in passing significant legislation in such areas as open meetings, right to die, hospice, adoption reform, mandatory seat belts, clean water, Blue Cross Blue Shield reform, and anti-redlining/neighborhood improvement.
Hollister was elected Lansing’s mayor in 1993, 1997 and 2001. His successes include $2.9 billion in investments to city infrastructure and civic life, including a new city transportation center, a new downtown minor league baseball stadium, five new state office buildings, three General Motors manufacturing facilities and revitalization of Lansing’s historic Old Town.
Hollister created and led the regional Lansing Works! Keep GM movement to maintain a major GM presence in the Lansing area. Lansing continues to be an auto manufacturing city because of his efforts. Recognizing the importance of maintaining mid-Michigan’s insurance sector, he helped structure a regional tax sharing agreement with Alaiedon and Meridian townships to keep Jackson National Life Insurance Company in the region.
Hollister’s time in office was characterized by close collaboration with colleges and universities and cooperation with the region’s business and labor communities. For these and other achievements, he received an honorary doctorate from Michigan State University in 1997.
In 2003 Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Hollister to the position of director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth where he served until 2006. The department integrated top economic development, workforce training, job creation, innovation, entrepreneurship and urban revitalization programs. Hollister’s major initiatives included launching the Cool Cities Initiative, establishing three new venture capital funds, creating 13 Regional Skills Alliances to help reshape Michigan’s workforce, luring 17 companies to move their headquarters to Michigan or expand their automotive research and development operations, and developing the 21st Century Jobs Initiative.
In 2005 Hollister co-founded, along with Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon, the Prima Civitas Foundation (PCF). As President and CEO, Hollister oversaw various initiatives designed to accelerate the transformation of Michigan to a more diverse, competitive, innovative, entrepreneurial and global economy. He also worked to carry out President Simon’s vision of transitioning MSU from a traditional “land grant” university to a “world grant” university more fully engaged in creating a 21st Century economy. From 2011 to 2013 Hollister transitioned to semi-retirement by becoming the foundation’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.
Hollister currently serves on the boards of the Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art, Genesee Global Action Team, Genesee Global Intermodal Corridor Initiative, Keep Learning, Capitol Area Michigan Works!, and the Information Technology Empowerment Center. He was a co-convener of, and continues to serve on, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) committee, which successfully championed Michigan State University to house the U.S, Department of Energy’s $800 million research facility.
Hollister earned Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degrees in government and history from Michigan State University. In 1997 he received an Honorary Law Degree from Michigan State University.
Hollister is married, the father of three sons, and the grandfather of seven children.