Nixon pardon recreated at leadership class hosted by Cooley, Ford Museum

On Saturday, September 17, a dozen individuals from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo were seated around the White House cabinet table in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. They were advising President Gerald R. Ford (played by Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Professor Devin Schindler) as to whether he should pardon former President Richard M. Nixon for his illegal acts arising from the Watergate break-in.

The 12 individuals, reflecting a cross section of the West Michigan community, included WMU-Cooley Law School students who had yet to be born at the time the original cabinet meetings took place, a mortgage banker, an engineer, and others who were alive at the time of the original events. Each shared their individual experience of watching a constitutional crisis unfold as the class debated the ethical, political and legal consequences of the various options President Ford had.

The cabinet table advisory session was part of the first class of the Leadership in Times of Crisis course jointly sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, WMU-Cooley Law School and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation provided the participants with Gerald R. Ford, a Test of Character DVDs, a documentary commissioned by the Peter F. Secchia Family. The purpose in creating the class is to provide a vehicle to educate and inspire community leaders and students to adopt the ethical leadership standards exhibited by President Ford throughout his life.

The class is open to all members of the community.  The seats are filled for the next two sessions in October and November but reservations are being taken for the next session in 2017.  Interested individuals should contact Victoria Vuletich, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, 616-301-6800, ext. 6957, or

Shown in the photo above: West Michigan community members and students from WMU-Cooley Law School discuss President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon during the course at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum,

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