President's Message to Campus - September 21, 2018

Homecoming Events

Ferris State University alumni will soon return to the Big Rapids community for our 92nd annual Homecoming celebration. Many events are planned for next week to welcome our alumni home and engage students, faculty, staff and the greater Big Rapids community.

Highlights of this year’s Homecoming, themed “Color Me Crimson,” include Michigan native, actor and comedian Dave Coulier performing at the annual comedy show on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. inside Williams Auditorium. On Friday at 4 p.m. on the North Quad, the University will host a special event to celebrate the Carillon Tower, which was dedicated 50 years ago in 1968. Among those scheduled to speak at the event include Jim Shane, professor emeritus of Architecture who created the spire’s design; Fred Lutzke, then Student Government representative who spearheaded the fundraising effort; and Dacho Dachoff, director emeritus of Music Activities at Ferris.

Friday evening we will recognize the Golden Eagles, Class of 1968 alumni, along with honoring Distinguished Alumni and Pacesetter Award recipients at the annual Fall Reunion dinner. These outstanding graduates are wonderful examples of how a Ferris education changes lives.

This year’s Distinguished Alumni are: Brendan Locke (’03), owner/operator of GOLFTEC franchise locations in Wisconsin, Detroit, St. Louis and downtown Chicago; Linda Meeuwenberg (’68 and ’78), owner of consulting firm Professional Development Association, Inc. and a faculty emerita of the Dental Hygiene program; Thomas Norris (’68), founder and president of NFI Advisors, Inc.; Dick Shaw (’62 and ’71), a faculty emeritus and Distinguished Teacher recipient in the HVAC program; and Mark Beiderwieden (’85), regional president of Amway Asia Pacific.

Pacesetter recipients include Michael DeBolt (’09), director of threat intelligence management & analysis with Intel 471; Kristin O’Brien (’08), optometrist/practice owner; and the late Elizabeth Wirgau (’04 and KCAD ’06). Ms. Wirgau tragically passed away in June and will be represented by her family.

Saturday, the Homecoming parade will take place at noon in downtown Big Rapids on Michigan Avenue, with Ferris’ 2017-18 NCAA Division II National Champion men’s basketball team serving as grand marshals. The football team hosts Ashland University at 3 p.m., with the game streamed nationally on ESPN3. Tailgating begins at 11 a.m.

Homecoming is a wonderful opportunity for the entire Ferris community to come together and to welcome alumni back to their alma mater. There are complete lists of activities available for alumni and students. Everyone is welcome. Please join the fun and bring your family.

Latinx Heritage Month

This week the Office of Multicultural Student Services begins its observation of Latinx Heritage Month. The annual celebration aims to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Several events are scheduled over the next three weeks for the campus and Big Rapids communities to enjoy. Tuesday, Sept. 25, the 2018 Latinx Heritage Celebration will be held on the North Quad from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The celebration will include food, music, dance lessons, arts and crafts and other activities. This event is co-sponsored by the Center for [email protected] Studies. On Tuesday, Oct. 2, a diverse panel of students and professionals will discuss diversity, complexities and journeys of identity during “Conversations on Race: Latinx Identity” inside IRC 107 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The third event is on Wednesday, Oct, 10, and features multicultural motivational speaker, author, storyteller and poet Bobby Gonzalez. He will draw on his Native American (Taino) and Latino (Puerto Rican) roots to offer a unique blend of discourses, readings and performances that celebrate his indigenous heritage. He will be performing from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in UC 203. All of these events are free and open to the public.

Thank you to the Office of Multicultural Student Services, the Center for [email protected] Studies and the 2018 Latinx Heritage Planning Committee members Ana Davila-Howard, Jessica Ledesma, Kaylee Moreno, Eric Warner and Michael Wade for sponsoring and organizing these events.

MASU Statewide Marketing Campaign

In an effort to encourage students to learn more about college and financial aid, the Michigan Association of State Universities unveiled a statewide marketing campaign last week featuring a new website, This website features information on the value of a college degree, links to all of Michigan’s 15 public universities, and information on filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

MASU created this campaign in response to a recent Lumina Foundation report that details Michigan’s needs both now and in the future for a highly educated workforce. Beyond the projected need of 126,000 more citizens with a two-year degree or certificate in the next 18 months, the state anticipates a need for 171,000 more people with a four-year degree. An analysis of the “Hot 50” careers in Michigan through 2026, compiled by the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget, shows that 35 of the professions require at least a four-year degree. This new campaign also aims to remind high school students and their parents that earning a college degree is a great way to ensure a good career, a chance to “make the difference” in their life and world, and that financial aid is available to many students.

Recent statistics document that 35% of Michigan high school graduates do not attend college. As the number of high school graduates continues to decline in Michigan, it is even more important that there is an increase in the percentage of students who choose to attend college. Increasing the number of men and women who earn a college degree not only positively impacts their lives, but their families, communities and the entire state.

The campaign, which uses radio, television and social media channels, is targeted to high school juniors and seniors and their parents. You can see the ads at the new Facebook page created for the campaign.


There is exciting news for the women’s soccer team. For the first time in program history, the team was ranked in the Division II United Soccer Coaches National poll this week. The team is ranked #17 and is currently second in the United Soccer Coaches Midwest Regional listing. The women, who are off to a 6-1-0 start and on a six-match winning streak, are coming off a three-win week on the road beating Illinois-Springfield in Hammond, Ind., last Tuesday, then nationally #13-ranked Saginaw Valley State, before earning another victory at Davenport. The women play in the Upper Peninsula against Michigan Tech tonight at 7 p.m. followed by Northern Michigan on Sunday at noon. Congratulations to head coach Andy McCaslin and his student-athletes on this achievement.

After victories last weekend on the road against Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech, women’s volleyball climbed to #7 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II National Rankings. The women will host two GLIAC home matches this week inside the Ewigleben Sports Arena. Today the team takes on Lake Superior State in a special 12 p.m. school day match with the second game against Saginaw Valley on Saturday at 3 p.m. The women are off to a 10-3 overall start this year and lead the GLIAC with a perfect 5-0 conference record.

The men’s golf team finished second in last weekend’s GLIAC North Invitational at Katke Golf Course. Senior Seth Terpstra earned individualist medal honors after shooting two 71’s and winning in a playoff.

Finally, the men’s football team had another dominating performance last weekend on the road against Northwood with a 53-10 victory. The team is currently ranked sixth in the nation and will take on Northern Michigan in Marquette tomorrow at 4 p.m.

David L. Eisler, president