President's Message to Campus - February 1, 2019

Festival of the Arts

This weekend the Festival of the Arts begins in Big Rapids. This is the twelfth edition of the Festival since it was restarted by architecture technology faculty emeritus Bruce Dilg. There are several continuing characteristics to the Festival of Arts. First, it brings together an extraordinary gathering of arts events to the Big Rapids community. Second, it has an amazing diversity of events. Truly there is something for everyone to enjoy at the Festival. Finally, it happens during what is often true Michigan winter weather. If you are ready to venture out and attend one of your favorites, or perhaps try something new, there are a plethora of events beginning tonight and continuing throughout February. Here are a few of this week’s events:

  • Friday, Feb. 1: “An Evening of Ragtime Piano” with Peter Bergin, 7 p.m., Fellowship Christian Reformed Church
  • Saturday, Feb. 2: “Legos to Robots: Becoming a Master Builder,” presented by the Ferris FIRST Robotics RSO, 1 p.m., FSU Granger Center Atrium; “Gold Company” Vocal Jazz Ensemble of Western Michigan University, 7 p.m., St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
  • Sunday, Feb. 3: “An Afternoon with Edgar Allen Poe” presented by Tom Harryman,” 4 p.m., Crossroads Charter Academy Auditorium
  • Monday, Feb. 4: “The Art of Pie Baking,” 6:30 p.m., Three Girls Bakery; “Michigan Rediscovered” presented by Ron Rademacher,” 7 p.m., Big Rapids Public Safety
  • Tuesday, Feb. 5: “Introductory Welding for Artists” presented by David Murray (first evening of a three-week course continuing on consecutive Tuesdays), 6 p.m., Swan 116
  • Wednesday, Feb. 6: “Virtual Tour of the Uffizi Gallery” presented by Lilia Caserta, 7 p.m., Big Rapids City Hall
  • Thursday, Feb. 7: "Esera Tuaolo,” presented by FSU Arts & Lectures, 7 p.m., University Center 202

As these events begin we appreciate and recognize the efforts of the Festival of the Arts Board – Roxanne Cullen, Megan Eppley, Mark Gifford, Courtney Gilson-Piercey, Melanie Henry, Jennifer Heinzman, Jerena Keys and Ed Mallet. Thank you to each of these individuals for sharing their love of the arts and coordinating this year’s Festival for our community. This year’s program book is 87 pages long. Pick up a copy or learn more about this week’s events at

Good News

The Good News listing this month represents a wide range of accomplishments and good works of our students, faculty and staff. It is always a pleasure reading through these achievements and sharing some of them with the greater University community. You can find the complete Good News list online.

  • Students in Connie Morcom’s Instructional Design course collaborated with Academic Service Learning partners to create and publish these videos: “Roben-Hood Airport,” City of Big Rapids; “To Teach” School of Education, “#analytics4academics”, [email protected] Ferris; and “The Importance of Antibiotics”, College of Pharmacy.
  • Criminal Justice student Jeremy Farmer received a Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission Student Award for his work on the Operation Golden Eagle Traffic Safety Initiative addressing traffic issues for concerts and events at the Soaring Eagle Casino.
  • Anuli Njoku published “Effect of online courses on US college students’ knowledge about health disparities," in the Health Education Journal.
  • Michael Reger, published (2nd author) “Vitamin K intake and prostate cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer (PLCO) Screening Trial” in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  • Gail Bullard presented “There is No ‘I’ in Change – Or is There?” at the Association of University Programs in Health Administration/ Medical Group Management Association conference in Boston.
  • Qian Ding was selected to present her research on trends in antipsychotic use in a Medicaid population at the 2019 AMCP Annual Meeting and was funded in part by a Student Research Fellowship with student Heidi Stultz.
  • Tracy Russo published “The Effect of Personal Learning Network Exposure on PreService Teacher’s Digital Resource Search Habits” in the i-manager’s Journal on School Educational Technology.
  • Ferris Grand Rapids hosted Maranda’s “Beautiful U,” a youth empowerment program, to help girls build self-confidence and an understanding of what makes them unique, for 140 middle school girls from Wyoming, Kentwood and Grand Rapids Public Schools.
  • Women’s basketball senior forward Abby Nakfoor was selected by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association to attend the 17th annual "So You Want To Be A Coach" program in Tampa.
  • Cindy Todd received the National Art Educator Award from the National Art Education Association, and the NAEA’s Western Region Art Educator Award and the Western Region Higher Education Art Educator Award. Phil Renato was appointed as an at-large member of the SIGGRAPH conference advisory group.
  • Margaret Vega received a three-week Visiting Artist and Scholar position at The American Academy in Rome working on influential stereotyping, systematic branding, and marketing of bias as it relates to the color labeling of flesh.
  • Danielle Wyckoff completed a project-based residency at the Lawrence Art Center in Kansas creating “Rethink: I Am a Veteran,” which blended an original theatre production with artwork, telling the stories of women veterans and their experiences.
  • UICA welcomed almost 4,000 people to the 30th Annual Holiday Artists Market. This juried arts and fine crafts show attracted over 75 vendors and raised $15,000 towards UICA’s year-round exhibitions, films and educational programming.
  • Nicholas Campau co-led a six-day LeaderShape Institute at Delaware Valley University. 118 children and adults registered for Spring 2019 swim lessons with University Recreation, and there are currently 78 participants registered for their FerrrisGetOutside initiative.
  • Approximately 700 students and community members attended the University Center Anniversary Party and enjoyed roller skating, virtual reality, arcade games, caricature artists, karaoke, giveaways and more. In December the Student Veterans Association collected necessities that filled up two pickup trucks for residents at the Grand Rapids Home for Veteran.
  • Jessica Davison attended the Collegiate Information and Visitors Service Association Student Development Institute with two student Admissions tour guides. Remington Hess, senior in the Health Care Systems Administration program, received the STAR award, the highest recognition awarded, one of five awarded with this honor.
  • Deb Savides is a member of the Impact Advisory Board which aims to help local Chicago area students become college-ready and to help them get into colleges of their choice.
  • Marketing Communications is offering education in its self-serve system for creating brand-compliant print materials. The system is browser-based and does not require software installation. Faculty and staff interested in receiving this assistance should contact Nate Clark.


Our women’s softball team opens their season this weekend in Louisville, Ky. The weather forecast in Louisville calls for temperatures to be warmer than Big Rapids with highs in the 40s to low 50s. The team’s first home game is scheduled for March 27 against Davenport.

Last weekend our hockey team defeated the 9th ranked team in the nation, Bowling Green, 3-0 on the road. They host Lake Superior State tonight and Saturday with both games starting at 7:07 p.m. Student-athletes and coaches from the fall season will be honored at Saturday’s game, including a group of eight All-Americans, football head coach Tony Annese, volleyball head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm, along with women's soccer coach Andy McCaslin and his staff. In addition, a ceremonial puck drop will take place with football quarterback and 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jayru Campbell.

Both the women’s and men’s basketball team were on the road last night competing at Saginaw Valley, with the women and men defeating SVSU 60-56 and 92-70 respectively. This brings the women’s overall record to 11-7 and the men 16-7. Next Thursday evening’s basketball games against Ashland will be televised nationally from Wink Arena via ESPN3 and the ESPN app. This is the first time in school history our basketball teams have been selected to host and compete in the NCAA Division II National TV Showcase “Game of the Week” on ESPN3. Women’s basketball starts at 5:30 p.m. with the men’s team following at 7:30 p.m. Help us have a large crowd in attendance for this national coverage.

Winter Weather

This week we experienced one of the most severe stretches of winter weather in memory. Heavy snow was followed by low temperatures and wind chill well below zero. One may need to go back to 1978 to find a week at Ferris when this many classes were cancelled due to severe winter weather. This is a disruption to courses and the academic schedule but it is important to keep students safe in this extreme weather. I want to thank all employees who braved the elements this week to ensure our students were taken care of and to keep our university open.

Our grounds crew have been extremely busy throughout the month of January as a result of multiple days of freezing rain and ice, a significant snow storm coupled with gusting winds, and below-zero temperatures. Over the last few months, they have put down between 250 and 275 tons of salt on our sidewalks, roads and parking lots. These employees have come in at all hours of the night to help make our campus ready for an 8 a.m. opening. Thank you to Grounds Supervisor Scott Wilcox and his crew for doing a wonderful job through these very difficult weather conditions. While the grounds crew are the most visible, other Physical Plant employees have been called in to assist with exterior and interior challenges across campus. Thank you to these employees and everyone who has braved the elements to keep our campus open under the most trying of conditions.

In the case of severe weather like we experienced this week, we rely upon our website and emergency text alert system to share information. If you have not signed up to receive text alerts, I would encourage you to do so by visiting the Emergency Text Alerts webpage. This is an important way to stay informed and up-to-date when severe weather or other emergencies necessitate quick dissemination of information.

David L. Eisler, president