President's Message to Campus - August 23, 2018

The arrival of new and returning faculty, along with meeting new students and their parents as they move into their residence halls, brings excitement and energy to our campuses and the Big Rapids community. I am very appreciative of all the volunteers on campus who are assisting students and their families today and Friday. From the First Impressions tables to Bulldogs in Action and the new Operation Move-In, we are ensuring students feel welcome and that they made the right decision to attend Ferris State University. Thank you to everyone who is helping our new students and their families during this exciting, yet emotional time. For many families, this will be their first move-in experience with their son or daughter. They truly appreciate the warm welcome and help.

Also designed to welcome students to our campus is Bulldog Beginnings, organized by the Center for Leadership, Activities and Career Services. Starting on Friday there will be a full two weeks of programming planned to help our students get acclimated to campus and make new friends. Highlights of this weekend’s activities include Friday’s annual Bulldog Welcome at Top Taggart Field at 8:30 p.m., Summer Fest in downtown Big Rapids on Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m., and UnCamping on the Quad from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. A full listing of events is available on the Bulldog Beginnings website. Thank you, Bulldog Beginnings sponsors, for planning a great series of events for our students.

Over the next few weeks, I encourage you to help our students as they become familiar and comfortable with our campuses and communities. While the organized help Ferris provides all our students is very important, many times a small gesture of kindness or extra help can make all the difference. We sometimes never know how this support may indeed change a life. Many of us can remember when someone did this for us.


People throughout our campuses have and are working very hard to bring in this fall’s class of students. As we monitor and review current numbers, we will be down in enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester. Compared with a year ago at this time we are down 320 students in Big Rapids with declines of 67 students at Kendall, 75 students online and 106 students at regional campuses. Based upon current enrollment trends, we anticipated a 4 percent decline and built the University’s budget around this projection. Currently, we are down 3.96 percent in student credit hours. Next week there will likely be late registrations added which may improve our enrollment outlook for the fall, but as of right now, we look to be very close to the target we established. I will provide an update on our enrollment figures after the 4th-day count is complete.

Volleyball Invitational

This weekend our volleyball team will open its 2018 campaign by hosting its own home invitational this Thursday thru Saturday in Big Rapids. The four-time defending Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champions will open their season Thursday evening at 6 p.m. vs. Upper Iowa University. They play two matches on Friday, one at noon vs. Winona State University (MN) and at 6 p.m. vs. Concordia University, St. Paul (MN), and conclude the tournament Saturday at 6 p.m. vs. Hillsdale College. Also competing in the tournament are Clarion University (PA), Lake Superior State University, Mercyhurst University (PA), Rollins College (FL) and Wayne State University. This is a very competitive field. Concordia – St. Paul is ranked #1 in the country pre-season, Winona State is #18 and our Bulldogs are #21. Here is the complete schedule for the tournament. Last season, the women ended the year with a 24-8 overall record and also became the first school to ever win four consecutive league regular season and post-season tourney crowns. Please come and support Coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm and her student-athletes in this exciting invitational tournament.

Founders’ Day and Opening Football Game

Next Thursday, Aug. 30 is our annual Founders’ Day celebration. This is a day to honor and celebrate our founders, Woodbridge and Helen Ferris, and their legacy in creating our University. I will be providing a State of the University address at 11 a.m., and the traditional campus picnic under the large tent on the Quad immediately follows. The Ice Cream Social begins at 4 p.m., together with the Founders’ Day Extravaganza which highlights volunteer opportunities for our students, 5-star RSOs and various departments from around the University. This celebration is free and open to all students, faculty, staff and community members. Please join us as your schedule allows.

Founders’ Day concludes with our opening football game vs. E. Stroudsburg University from Pennsylvania. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. Last year our football team was 11-2, advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals. Preseason polls rank our team at 3 rd and 8 th in the nation. It will be a great evening to support Coach Tony Annese and his student-athletes.

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the start of the academic year. I am glad you are here and look forward to working with you on behalf of our students and their future success.

David L. Eisler, president