President's Message to Campus - August 31, 2018

Founders’ Day

Our founders, Woodbridge and Helen Ferris, were pioneers of their time. Over the last 134 years, from the first class of 15 students to the more than 13,000 students we educate today, we continue to provide opportunities for success and share the legacy our founders created for us.

It was a pleasure to see many members of our campus and local community enjoy great food and friendship during the annual Founders’ Day activities. Dining services provided a wonderful lunch and provided students with the comfort foods reminiscent of home. Later that afternoon, celebrity servers scooped and served Jones’ homemade ice cream during the 11th annual Ice Cream Social. Sponsored by Governmental Relations and General Counsel, the Ice Cream Social brings together the Big Rapids and University communities. We are fortunate to have a very special heritage and tradition, and Founders’ Day is always a special event. I am appreciative of the many people who planned and put this day together for the Ferris and Big Rapids communities.

Bulldog Beginnings

The first few weeks of the fall semester are a very important time for all of our students. Something we work very hard at is welcoming our new and continuing students onto campus and providing a myriad of safe and engaging opportunities for them to enjoy. I cannot thank enough the Bulldog Beginnings committee and its chair, Center for Leadership, Activities and Career Services Director Angela Roman. The programming organized by the committee over these first 16 days of the semester is outstanding. These events help our students become familiar with the campus, our student body and the University’s traditions. You can view the complete schedule of Bulldog Beginnings activities online. If you have some time, I would encourage you to attend one or more remaining events to welcome our students to campus.


On Thursday, the 4th day enrollment count was tabulated. Based upon current enrollment trends, we anticipated a 4 percent decline and built the University’s budget around this projection. Here is an overall look at the numbers:

  • University-wide fall headcount is 13,250, a decrease of 548 students (4.0%) and 6,054 student credit hours (3.9%).
  • In Big Rapids the decrease is 315 students (3.2%) and 4,707 SCH (4.1%).
  • At Kendall the decrease is 60 students (5.6%) and 820 SCH (7.2%).
  • Regional campus enrollment is down 112 students (6%) and 1,554 SCH (12.5%).
  • Continuing students are down 466 (5.1%) university-wide and 259 (4.1%) in Big Rapids.
  • First to second-year retention for bachelor’s degree students is 76%, down 3%.
  • The number of international students this fall is 238, down 60 students (20.1%).

There are some positive signs in this fall’s enrollment:

  • First Time in Any College (FTIAC) students are up 61 (3.3%) university-wide and up 70 (4.1%) in Big Rapids.
  • New transfer students are down, but much less than the past few years, down 21 (1.7%) university-wide and 14 (2.2%) in Big Rapids.
  • While online enrollment is down 61 students (6.1%), it is up by 1,027 SCH (6.8%).
  • The number of Hispanic students is up 29 (4.1%).

I want to thank everyone who has invested time and energy in recruiting new students to our campus. Your efforts are succeeding, and we are attracting greater numbers of new students. You can view the enrollment numbers in more detail here.


Last weekend was an impressive season-opening for the women’s volleyball team. They won all four games in their Ferris State Invitational Tournament, defeating Upper Iowa University, Winona State University, Concordia University in St. Paul, and Hillsdale College. Winona State was ranked 18th, and Concordia was the defending national champion and ranked #1 in the country. As a result, our team moved up in the NCAA Division II National Rankings to #4 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association D2 National Poll. The women are in Florida this week, with games against Drury University (MO) and Florida Southern today (Friday) and against Rollins College and the University of Tampa on Saturday. They return home next weekend for games on Friday against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, the newest member of the GLIAC Conference, and Saturday against Purdue University – Calumet.

The football team had a dominating home-opening game last evening against East Stroudsburg University (PA). In a game they led 42-3 at halftime, they finished with a convincing 49-17 win. Heading into this season, Ferris is one of only five teams in all of college football to win at least 11 games each of the past four years. The Bulldogs, along with Northwest Missouri State, are the only programs in Division II football to make the playoffs each of the past four seasons. The men play again at home on Saturday, Sept. 8, against Findlay at 7 p.m.

Congratulations to our athletic teams and their coaches for this impressive start to their seasons.

David L. Eisler, president