President's Message to Campus - November 9, 2018

Foundation for Excellence Benefit

Last Friday evening DeVos Place in Grand Rapids was filled with more than 650 friends and supporters who attended the 20th annual Foundation for Excellence Benefit. During the reception, students, faculty and staff hosted 17 interactive displays showcasing the unique opportunities available to students. Attendees enjoyed receiving this first-hand look at examples of innovative and distinctive programming at Ferris. Thank you to everyone who helped share these experiences with our guests. Your efforts were very well received and appreciated.

Much good news was shared throughout the evening. Recipients of Ferris Foundation Opportunity Scholarships and Faculty and Staff Merit Grants were recognized, along with the exceptional success achieved in our first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign. We have raised nearly $78 million in the Now & Always campaign, 97 percent of the initial fundraising goal. At the benefit, campaign co-chair Gary Granger and Vice President for University Advancement & Marketing Shelly Pearcy announced that based on this success, the campaign’s fundraising goal will be increased to $115 million, with the timeframe extended through June 30, 2022. The response to the fundraising campaign has been both inspiring and humbling, and we look forward to building on this momentum.

The primary focus of this campaign has been on student scholarship endowments. Since the inception of the Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge matching gift program, we have raised more than $5.67 million – $11 million-plus with the match – in gift commitments, with over 125 endowments. This number is steadily growing. The most recent gift of $6.3 million from Dewaine and Jana Robinson for endowed pharmacy scholarships will increase these numbers even further.

The evening concluded with a standing ovation for keynote speaker Tim Murphy (EHS ’83). Mr. Murphy is former deputy director of the FBI and a Ferris Foundation Board Director. He brought the evening to an inspirational close with a personal story of how Ferris changed his life. The remarks he made were a true testament to the preparation and education he received, and how his experience at Ferris made him the leader he is today in global law enforcement, intelligence and business. After his speech, Tim was presented with the Foundation’s first-ever “Lead Where You Stand” award in recognition of his achievements, the example he sets for Ferris students, and for his continuing engagement and generous support of the University.

This was a wonderful evening, truly one of the best in recent memory. I would like to thank all who attended and the many, many people who worked very hard to make this event a success.

Veterans Day

With Veterans Day on Sunday, communities across the nation will hold special events and ceremonies to honor veterans and those currently serving our country. The history of Veterans Day comes from Armistice Day, declared 100 years ago on Nov. 11, 1918, signifying the end of World War I. Originally this was a day set aside to honor these veterans, but after World War II and the Korean War, Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day to recognize all service members for their patriotism, willingness to serve and sacrifice for this country.

To celebrate and honor veterans, the Ferris and Big Rapids communities are invited to attend the 16th annual Veterans Day Concert, performed by the Ferris State University West Central Concert Band, Sunday at 4 p.m. inside Williams Auditorium. Led by Musical Director and Conductor Scott Cohen, the concert features music from all five branches of service with a special recognition of all service members. This concert is free and open to all.

On Monday, Nov. 12, we will host our annual Veterans Breakfast. The morning’s speaker is Lieutenant Colonel Ravinda Wagh with the Michigan Army National Guard. Seating begins at 7:45 a.m. inside the University Center, Room 202, and all veterans, whether they be students, staff, faculty or members of our greater Big Rapids community, are invited to be our guests.

We are fortunate to live in a country where we can enjoy the freedom envisioned by our nation’s founders. I encourage you to join me in expressing your thanks for their service to our veterans and to active members of our Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserve. Their commitment and sacrifices protect our country and the freedoms we enjoy today.

Sexual Misconduct Training Reminder

In my Oct. 23 message to campus, I shared information on the recent release of the Sexual Misconduct Task Force report and the need identified for additional sexual misconduct educational opportunities for employees. To help address this gap, the University is hosting Scott Lewis, a nationally known expert on sexual misconduct in higher education.

Please make every effort on Wednesday, Nov. 14, to attend a training session offered in the University Center, Room 202C. You can register online for one of the five, 70-minute sessions. They begin at 9 a.m. and continue through 4 p.m.

Faculty and staff at KCAD, in addition to our off-campus sites, will have the ability to participate in these trainings remotely. If you work at KCAD, please contact Sandy Britton at [email protected] or 616-451-2787. If you work at one of our off-campus locations, please contact Jocelyn Goheen at [email protected] or 616-451-4777 for information on how to view the presentation remotely.


The Strategic Planning and Resource Council meets on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 3 to 5 p.m. inside the University Center, Room 202. David Pilgrim and Spence Tower will share an update on the status of our 2019-2024 strategic plan. Strategic Planning workgroup co-chairs Megan Biller and Kasey Thompson (Branding, Reputation, Image and Community) and Peter Bradley (Academic Programs and Offerings) will provide information relative to the progress being made in their workgroups. Shelly Pearcy will share the success to date of our comprehensive capital campaign, Now & Always.

SPARC meetings are open to all; you need not be a member to attend. If you have ideas or thoughts on these topics and would like to engage in these discussions, please consider attending.


With the continued success of Ferris athletics, there is a pattern of exceptional achievement and expectation. In that context, this past weekend was an extraordinary one for our student-athletes, coaches and fans.

Friday evening volleyball defeated the #2 team in the conference, Michigan Tech, in a dominating 3-0 victory to capture the GLIAC regular season championship for the fifth year in a row. They followed this on Saturday evening with a 3-0 victory against Northern Michigan to achieve an unbeaten 16-0 record in the conference. This is their first unbeaten conference season in memory. Over the past five years, the team has lost only six conference games. Wednesday evening they defeated Wisconsin Parkside 3-0 and will host the GLIAC postseason tournament today and Saturday. They next face Saginaw Valley today at 3 p.m. in the conference semifinals.

Friday evening our soccer team battled Saginaw Valley in a game that was scoreless through regulation and two overtime periods. They won on a 3-2 advantage in penalty kicks to advance to the GLIAC championship match. Although losing to Grand Valley, they were chosen for the NCAA postseason tournament and are hosting first and second round games here in Big Rapids. Yesterday the women defeated McKendree 2-0 and will face Ohio Valley in the second round of tournament play at noon on Saturday.

Saturday afternoon our football team defeated Davenport 41-17 in a game that was over at halftime. For his performance in this game, quarterback Jayru Campbell was chosen as the GLIAC offensive player of the week for the 6th time this season. The victory extends the team’s record to 10-0 and they captured the GLIAC championship. This is the third time in five years the team has been undefeated in conference play. The Bulldogs have lost only three regular season games in the last five years. Last week’s victory also marked head coach Tony Annese’s 100th collegiate victory (70 at Ferris and 30 at Grand Rapids Community College). Football closes out its regular season Saturday against William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo.

Saturday evening the ice hockey team defeated Michigan State 4-1 before a sellout crowd for their third consecutive victory at home. Tonight and Saturday, the team resumes play at home against the Michigan Tech Huskies. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. both nights. Both Ferris and Michigan Tech are currently unbeaten at 2-0 in the WCHA.

David L. Eisler, president