President's Message to Campus - September 7, 2018

Power Outage

Early Wednesday afternoon the entire Big Rapids campus experienced a power outage. It is believed this resulted from a transformer failure at the College of Business that caused two tripped fuses near the College of Arts and Sciences. It is easy to take something like electrical power for granted, but this experience reinforced how critical electricity is for the work of our University. This is a disruption to teaching and learning, and without power, any work requiring computing also is ended. In this context, it was prudent to cancel the remaining Wednesday afternoon and evening classes, along with scheduled events including Bulldog Bonanza. With the exception of the Business Building, power was restored to campus buildings from 4 p.m. until shortly after 5 p.m. This restoration of power was timely for evening meals and our residential students.

Repairs for the Business Building require a replacement transformer. My understanding is that one has been located, and the intent is to install it late Friday. Without complications, the power should be on and the building beginning to return to normal for Monday classes. Thank you for your patience as these repairs are made. Many people took time to help and assist our students. Thank you for doing so. I would especially like to thank a long list of employees who clearly went above and beyond to assist.

Many people worked many hours on Wednesday so classes could be held Thursday. Thank you to all the Electricians, HVAC crew, Plumbers, Mechanics, Physical Plant front desk staff, Mike Hughes, Sandy Gholston, Bruce Borkovich, DPS Dispatchers, Dining Services staff, Housing and Residential Life staff, Student Activities staff, the College of Business Dean’s Office staff on rescheduling classes, the SHERM staff, and Jerry Scoby, who coordinated and led our response. It is likely this list does not include all who helped. If so, please know that your efforts are very much appreciated and accept our thanks. Unexpected challenges bring out the best in our people. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

As we review our response to this situation, we will look to learn from this experience. Your perspective in this is important. If you have a suggestion on how we can improve or on something that we missed, please send these to me. If you would prefer to remain anonymous use the suggestion box on our website. Your input is encouraged and appreciated.

If you have signed up for our RAVE emergency texts, you received information on Wednesday as it was available. If you did not, this is a good time to sign up for our emergency text notifications. This system is important not only for emergency situations, but also for significant weather alerts and other major disruptions to normal University operations like the power outage experienced this week. To send messages quickly, we limit the size of RAVE messages and make more detailed information available on the University’s homepage.

SPARC Meeting

The Strategic Planning and Resource Council will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. in UCB 202B. Topics of discussion include a strategic planning update with David Pilgrim and Spence Tower, strategic planning workgroup discussion on enhancing resources with Jennifer Dirmeyer and Bob Murray, and preparation by Elise Gramza and Tony Baker for the October meeting on reducing “silo” thinking. SPARC will conclude on Tuesday with discussion of future topics.

These monthly meetings are open to everyone, and you are invited to attend. In addition to SPARC members, I would like to especially encourage those who serve on the strategic planning committee, a strategic planning workgroup, the HLC accreditation steering committee, or an HLC criterion committee to attend SPARC meetings.

Kendall Faculty Art Show

Thursday I had the opportunity to view the Kendall exhibition, Focus on Faculty | Influence, currently showing in the Fed Galleries in the Ferris Building. This show presents the work of 32 faculty and captures well the talent, creativity and breadth of their artistic interests. This exhibition will be up through ArtPrize and is part of this year’s 90th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of Kendall College of Art and Design. If you have the opportunity, please take time to view this beautiful exhibit.

Good News

Each month we collect and share the accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff. I very much enjoy learning about your achievements. Thank you for taking time to share these with us. Presented here is only a small sampling of what is a remarkable listing at the beginning of the academic year. I encourage you to review the entire Good News list and congratulate your colleagues on their success.

  • Dale Skornia guest conducted the University City Summer Concert Band in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Christian Peterson co-edited a new textbook, “The Routledge History of World Peace since 1750,” and co-authored the chapter “Peace in an age of Modernity, 1865–1914.”
  • Online MBA Today noted Ferris’ standing as fourth-best in its “Top 15 Online MBA Programs in Michigan” rankings.
  • Nancy Hogan and Steve Hundersmarck published the textbook “Current Topics in Criminal Justice” with proceeds going toward a scholarship fund for CJ students.
  • The School of Criminal Justice had the largest academy class
  • Clinical Laboratory Sciences was awarded an ASCP Foundation Laboratory Science Program Director Educational Grant of $2,500.
  • The Charter Schools Office was awarded accreditation by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, the Northwest Accreditation Commission, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.
  • Leah Monger was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Michigan ACE Women’s Network.
  • Madeleine Hacker, OD, of Wisconsin was named the top GPA earner from the Michigan College of Optometry as published by Women in Optometry.
  • Jody Gardei developed a web-based Banner 9 training module to introduce new users to the Banner 9 system and policies associated with data management.
  • Jody Gardei, Angela Buys and Leah Melichar successfully completed the Thinking Collaborative Adaptive Schools Advanced Seminar in August 2018.
  • The football team's homecoming showdown against Ashland on Saturday, Sept. 29, has been chosen for live national television on ESPN3.
  • The Technology Assistance Center and Student Technology Services have been consolidated into one new department called the TAC IT Solution Center.
  • Wireless network upgrades were completed in Bond, Clark, Hallisy, Pickell and Ward Halls.
  • Ralph Williams participated in a panel discussion on Cybersecurity: Lesson’s from Losses at the M.U.S.I.C 2018 Symposium: Cybersecurity.
  • The Promesa Summer Success program ended on August 10 with five students attending Ferris this fall.
  • Maggie Walcott organized “Chalk the Walk for Inclusion” to welcome back students with messages of kindness and inclusion.
  • Videos about the Jim Crow Museum on Facebook and YouTube, produced by Vice News (HBO), have garnered over 10 million views.
  • The Jim Crow Museum received a collection of photographs produced by David Levinthal, valued at over $2.2 million.
  • Brett Schuelke presented on “Free Speech in the Current Campus Climate” at the Student Affairs Retreat and to a group from the CLACS office.
  • Steve Stratton presented in Grand Rapids to the doctoral students of the DCCL program regarding labor relations in higher education.
  • The Grand Rapids Public Museum School opened the doors to its new high school campus inside the old Public Museum building at 54 Jefferson. Gayle DeBruyn and Cindy Todd were instrumental contributors to this project in bringing design thinking methodologies to the Museum School’s place-based curriculum.
  • KCAD Communications earned two Awards of Excellence in the annual UCDA Design Competition.
  • Leslie Bellavance served on the judging panel for the 2018 Legacy Trust Award Collection, a competition showcasing the work of disabled artists in Michigan.
  • Stefanie Snider was a contributing author to the exhibition catalog “Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell,” which won the Gold Prize for Best West-Pacific Regional Non-Fiction Book in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
  • Students in John Koziatek’s Integrated Branding class were tapped again by the JW Marriott Grand Rapids to design new uniforms for staff at the hotel’s outdoor patio restaurant.
  • UICA Executive Director Miranda Krajniak has been selected as one of five finalists for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 ATHENA® Young Professional Award.
  • UICA: Outside was installed in three neighborhoods in Grand Rapids – West Side, Creston and Baxter. This public mural project is UICA’s venue entry into ArtPrize 10.
  • Bulldog Beginnings included 46 activities taking place over 16 days on campus or in the Big Rapids community to welcome new and returning students.
  • In 2017-2018, the fraternity/sorority community reported 3,672 hours of community service and donated $30,859.75 to non-profit organizations.
  • From Aug. 1-23, the Financial Aid Office assisted 573 students and their families on a walk-in basis and answered 3,255 telephone calls, helping students prepare for the fall semester.
  • Late orientation included 134 students, 23 more than last year. The main 16 orientation sessions had 13 more students than last year, and online orientation has been completed by 324 incoming students, up 61 from last year. The main campus orientation had 97 more students than last year with a total of 2,456 students.
  • The Frey Foundation has committed one year of support for the Students In Need of Eyecare (SINE) program and the Latino Business and Economic Development Center.
  • Since July 1, 2016, the Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge has received 267 gifts and pledges to new and existing endowments, with more than $5.4 million of new gift commitments from Ferris State University benefactors. With the match, this creates more than $10.9 million of new endowed funds for the support of Ferris students.
  • The Web Content team has improved the accessibility of for all users, including those who are visually and audio challenged. The site is now rated at 98 percent for accessibility.


This weekend our volleyball team will compete at home on Friday at 7 p.m. against Wisconsin-Parkside and Saturday at 2 p.m. against Purdue Northwest. Our football team, which is now ranked #6 in this week’s national poll following their impressive season-opening victory, will take on #19-ranked Findlay at 7 p.m. at Top Taggart Field.

Congratulations to the women’s soccer team and head coach Andy McCaslin on their 3- 2 win last weekend against Bellarmine (Ky). Our team will be on the road the next several weeks with their next home competition against Ashland on Sept. 28 at 4 p.m.

Our men’s and women’s cross country teams will host the 44th annual Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational at Katke Golf Course tomorrow. Ray Helsing was a legendary coach who founded cross country at Ferris and led his teams to a 77-17 dual meet mark and four conference titles. He coached Ferris’ cross country together with track and field from 1968-1982 and produced 20 All-Americans. It was my pleasure to get to know this extraordinary man before his passing in 2014, and it is meaningful to see him remembered in this fitting manner.

Thank you for your efforts for our students and for Ferris.

David L. Eisler, president