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Art Center of Battle Creek

Eleanor and Robert DeVries Education Programs

The Art Center is honored in 2012 to name its education programs the
"Eleanor and Robert DeVries Education Programs"Eleanor and Robert DeVries

Ellie and Bob have been supporters of the Art Center for many years. Their encouragement has helped the Center’s programs grow and continue to serve this community. In addition to their guidance and support through several annual funding campaigns, Ellie and Bob have also lent their expertise in the area of art by loaning items from their collection and helping to curate five exhibitions at the Art Center.

As well as the Art Center, the DeVries have added their support to many of the arts and cultural groups in the greater Battle Creek community and are a great inspiration for others to follow in their footsteps. Their passion has helped to enrich our community. Thank you Ellie and Bob!

Eleanor DeVries

Eleanor DeVries graduated from Valparaiso University, Indiana, in 1957, with a BS in Education and taught in public schools in Chicago, Illinois and Dayton, Ohio. As the DeVries’ four children grew older, Eleanor continued her education. She received M.A. and M.F.A. degrees, with honors, from Western Michigan University in 1987 and 1988, respectively. While at the university, she received first place in the Annual Student Art Competition as well as the Johnson-Howard Company Merit Award.

From 1987, she has had artwork accepted in over 150 juried regional, statewide and national competitions. Her work has been featured in approximately fifteen one-person exhibitions. Her creations show love of nature as well as bright colors and her interest in spiritual and psychological ideas. The Art Center of Battle Creek, Kellogg Community College, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Michigan Watercolor Society’s statewide exhibits, Carnegie Museum, Lansing Art Gallery, Central Michigan University, and the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art in Midland, Michigan, have all included her work. She has also had works accepted in juried statewide and national religious art competitions in Evanston, Illinois, as well as Detroit and East Lansing.

Eleanor has taught in the Chicago and Dayton public school systems, at the Art Center of Battle Creek, Kellogg Community College, and the Institute for Learning in Retirement. She developed and taught a summer class for students called “New Angles for New Photographers” and also presented a yearlong series of slide programs to integrate art and the social studies curriculum, for 300 sixth graders in the Lakeview School District.

In the last several years, her work has been diverse. Eleanor has continued to create watercolor/mixed media paintings. These bright, colorful images include prints of leaves and seeds, created in sprayed as well as brushed paint. Current and past series of photographs and paintings have been on these topics: Seedtime and Harvest, Pathways, Along the Trail, Growth, Hard Places, Woodland Musings, and Water and Wind. The sprayed paint and multiple layers encourage a variety of interpretations. Photography and acrylic on canvas are other mediums in which she expresses her personal ideas.

In 2003, Western Michigan University was 100 years old. During this year Eleanor was one of 100 alumni, from their 3,400 graduates, who were honored as the “Art Alumni 100.” She and her husband have served as co-curators and/or loaned items for the exhibits at the Art Center of Battle Creek: Eastern Orientations: the Culture and Art of China, The Art of Adornment, Land of the Snow Leopard and The Art of Fashion: the Art of Silk and Wool and the Art of Paul Wang.

The DeVries’ received the 2004 Battle Creek Rotary Club Red Rose Award for distinguished community service and in November 2007, she and her husband, Robert, received the Michigan Governor’s Award as Civic Leaders for Arts and Culture. In 2008, they were Honorary Chairpersons of the Governor’s Award Ceremony. At Western Michigan University, in 2009, they received the Medici Society’s Fine Arts Cosimo Honor and in 2010 the Art Gallery at Kellogg Community College was named after them. In 2011 the DeVries received the "Golden Seedling" Award from the Leila Arboretum Society.

Robert A. DeVries

For 27 years Bob DeVries served as Program Director in health and leadership for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan, one of the world’s largest philanthropies. He was founding Director of the Kellogg International Leadership Program and for nine years directed the Foundation’s international grants for masters and doctoral studies involving more than 1,000 fellows from 30 countries. Mr. DeVries retired in January of 1999. Recently, he has been a consultant for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the University of Michigan, Columbia University, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Battle Creek Health System.
Before joining the Foundation staff in 1971, he served as Chief Executive Officer of a Michigan community hospital. DeVries holds a BS Degree in Physiology and an MBA Degree in Health Management and Policy from the University of Chicago. Mid career, he studied and taught at the University of Michigan as a National Health Services Research Fellow, Department of Health and Human Services. He is a Fellow of the National Center for Health Services Research, the American College of Healthcare Executives, and the Canadian School of Management. Author of more than sixty publications, DeVries is an Honorary Advisor to Beijing Medical University; the Medical College for Health Staff of Shanghai; and the Shanghai Number One People’s Hospital. Mr. DeVries has lectured in ten countries, received the Distinguished Service Award of the American Society of Allied Health Professions and was the Advisor on rural health to two United States Secretaries of Health and Human Services. DeVries was an invited speaker at the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National Institutes of Health, and the Harvard Medical School. DeVries is the only individual to receive the American Hospital Association’s “Living the Vision” Award in 1999 for his influence in creating a society where all persons reach their full potential for health. Also in 1999 DeVries received the Special Recognition Award for Distinguished Service from the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. In 2003, he received a Certificate of Honor from Peking University in Beijing. His Alma Mater, the University of Chicago, honored him with its 2005 National Award for Public Service. In January 2006, he was one of 25 named to the American Hospital Association’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Healthcare Governance.

Volunteer responsibilities: Past Chairs of LifeCare Ambulance Service, the Leila Arboretum Society; and Board Quality Committee for Battle Creek Health System. He is Vice Chair of the Battle Creek Community Foundation. DeVries serves as Assisting Minister of the St. Peter Lutheran Church in Battle Creek.


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