Downtown Lansing fountain dedicated to Brian Whiston

By Monica Drake
Office of Performance and Transformation

Gov. Rick Snyder with Brian Whiston’s family

On August 9, the fountain located between the John Hannah and Ottawa buildings in downtown Lansing was dedicated to State Superintendent Brian Whiston, who died in May at age 56.

Gov. Rick Snyder, Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles, State Board of Education Co-presidents Casandra E. Ulbrich and Dr. Richard Zeile, board members, and hundreds of state employees joined Whiston’s family in the dedication and unveiling of the new name – the Brian J. Whiston Memorial Fountain.

The event began with an a cappella performance by the Grand Ledge High School choir of “Here Comes the Sun.” Sheila Alles said, “The Beatles were one of Brian’s favorite groups.”

She went on to say, “Brian was a true visionary. It was his vison to create a plan to make Michigan a top education state in 10 years. He was an amazing leader who included others in his policy making decisions and planning, believing in the importance of hearing from everyone.”

“He visited schools and districts on almost a weekly basis and took every opportunity to talk to the students because he truly enjoyed spending time engaging with kids. Brian was a dedicated husband, a loving father, a doting grandfather, an inspiring educator, a humble leader, and a true and lasting friend to everyone who is here.”

At the event, Snyder signed the executive order officially naming the fountain the Brian J. Whiston Memorial Fountain.

Snyder said he’ll always miss Whiston and will remember him as a fun guy and family man with a tremendous career.

“He was a role model and mentor from his early days as a career professional. When he became state superintendent, we hit it off right away. I’m very proud of the partnership we had,” said Snyder. “His sole focus was what’s good for the kids. He was selfless.”

Snyder said he wanted to recognize Whiston in a tangible way so, in order to keep Whiston’s legacy alive, he and the Michigan Department of Education decided to name the fountain after him.

“As people think of Brian, he was a person who brought a smile to people’s faces. This fountain represents Brian’s spirit of being a cheerful, wonderful person that had everyone’s best interest at heart,” he said.