President's Message to Campus - May 13, 2019

The end of the semester is always filled with much excitement and includes many events highlighting our students and their accomplishments. Leading up to commencement are celebratory award receptions and dinners, hooding ceremonies, and many recognition events for graduates. These events help emphasize how excellence is achieved through the hard work and commitment of our students. Their successes and accomplishments are wonderful examples of the extraordinary results from your work every day for our students. Thank you for all you do to help them achieve their goals and dreams.


This past Friday and Saturday we held five commencement ceremonies in Big Rapids and another in Grand Rapids to celebrate the Class of 2019. Over 1,600 graduates crossed the stage, proud to become alumni of Ferris State University. We also recognized three outstanding individuals who were presented with honorary doctoral degrees – alumnus Timothy Murphy, and superintendents Dr. Michael Shibler and Teresa Weatherall Neal. Their remarks to the graduates were uplifting and inspiring. You can read their remarks online.

At the Big Rapids ceremonies, I shared stories of our graduates. They included two foster youth who went from a life of instability to stability and careers they both love, a Promesa scholar who interned with the Department of Defense, an actuarial science major who completed high school online so she could take care of her daughter, an MCO student whose family dissolved when she was five and relied upon many in her community to lift her up and help her succeed, and a student who helped care for her mother and siblings while in high school and looked upon Ferris as an opportunity for a fresh start. The most difficult story to share was of a veteran in our Welding Engineering Technology program who lost his life in a snowmobiling accident this past January. It was an honor to share his and all of these remarkable graduate stories. You can read them on our website. They truly demonstrate how a Ferris education transforms lives.

Something very special occurred that garnered national media attention for one of our graduates, Sharonda Wilson. Her graduation with a Ferris degree through our campus at Mott Community College in Flint was the same day as her son Stephan’s graduation from Central Michigan University. She chose to attend her son’s graduation instead of her own. When CMU’s president, Robert Davies, heard she was missing her own commencement ceremony, he awarded her Ferris degree that day at her son’s commencement. The pure emotion of this moment between a mother and her son is truly magical. Our collaboration created this memorable moment for them. You can view the national coverage of this on multiple news outlets including CNN, the TODAY Show and ABC News. It takes the tremendous effort of many people to make our commencement ceremonies successful. I want to thank everyone who made it possible for our students, their families and friends to have such a wonderful day of celebration. Commencement provides an opportunity to see the difference your efforts make in our students’ lives. Thank you for making this possible for them.

Good News

 There are many accomplishments and contributions achieved by faculty, staff and students, especially as we conclude the academic year. This is a very small sampling from the latest Good News. Please read through the complete list and congratulate your students and colleagues on their successes.

  • Paul Zube and Sandy Alspach each advised two students who presented at the International Association for Communication and Sport Summit in Boise, Idaho.
  • Michael Berghoef presented with Cruz Maria Morales from the University of El Salvador on “Contextualizing Latinx Genocide Studies Utilizing the Shoah Visual History Archive” at the Latinx Social Work Organization conference in Oakland, Calif.
  • The Ferris American Marketing Association chapter was recognized as one of the top 10 international AMA chapters at the AMA International Collegiate Conference.
  • Jon McDonald received the 2019 Distinguished Educator in the Arts Award from the Society of Illustrators, which recognizes individuals who have attained the highest standard of academic achievement.
  • The April Dawg Days was the largest spring semester Dawg Day event on record with 410 guests in attendance including 158 prospective students.
  • Ferris will participate in the inaugural 2019 cohort of the First Forward program, acknowledging higher education institutions for their commitment to first-generation student success, sponsored by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
  • The University’s official Instagram account, @ferrisstateu, has more than 9,000 followers, and the LinkedIn account has more than 71K followers, making it one of Ferris’ largest and most active social media platforms.

Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet

Supported by a merit grant from The Ferris Foundation, a short animated film called Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet was created to instill behaviors in children that will help keep them from being a victim of cyber predators. The film retells the fable “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” with the goal of teaching children that people online may not be who they seem. Business faculty Hira Herrington coordinated the project, while students in Elizabeth Post’s social work class wrote the script, with members of the Alpha Psi Omega Theater Honor Society providing voiceovers. A team from the Music and Entertainment Business program, led by Paul Kwant, provided the film’s musical score, with Karyn Kiio providing operational assistance. The video animation was produced by alumnus and local video producer and director Duane Weed. This is a wonderful example of the power of collaboration at Ferris State University.


Congratulations to our men’s golf team who this week advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championships, earning a share of third place at the D2 Super Regional Championships. Beginning with an opening 299, they improved to 292 and 288 in each round. Senior Andrew Hammett finished tied for fourth in the tournament. This is the team’s second trip to the national championship in the past three years and marks their 16th appearance in school history. Best of luck to the team as they prepare and head to the championship tourney in Daniels, W.Va. May 20-24.

In postseason play on Saturday our men’s tennis team defeated fifth-seeded Lewis (Ill.) 4-3 in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional tournament, sending our team to the championship match on Sunday where their season ended against top-seeded University of Indianapolis. The team earned runner-up honors in the GLIAC Tournament while making their fifth consecutive appearance in the league final this season. This was the team’s 23rd all-time NCAA Tourney appearance and the squad's first under interim head coach Mark Doren. Congratulations to the team and coach Doren on this successful season.

Closing Thoughts

As we end this academic year I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to each and every faculty and staff member. Your hard work, dedication and commitment to our students and University make an important difference. As a result of your efforts, our academic programs excel at national rankings and receive specialized accreditations. With your support, our students participate in a wide range of academic and civic activities both in and outside of class. The Swan Annex renovation and expansion is completed, along with renovations to the Student Recreation Center and the establishment of the Academic Literacies Center inside the FLITE Library. Our athletic teams experienced tremendous success this year. Looking back there is much of which to be proud. I very much look forward to building on these successes and to our work together next year. Please have a safe and enjoyable summer.

David L. Eisler, president