President's Message to Campus - November 15, 2019

Veteran’s Day Events

This past week’s Veteran’s Day events honored members of our campus and Big Rapids communities who have served, and in many instances, fought for our country. Sunday afternoon Scott Cohen led a moving concert that included multimedia, patriotic and historically significant musical selections, a stirring one-act play by Jim Samuels, and comments by a number of individuals including a welcome by Trustee Ana Ramirez-Saenz.

At Monday’s Veteran’s Day Breakfast those in attendance heard the inspirational and humbling story of retired U.S. Army Sergeant Douglas Szczepanski Jr. He shared with us memories of his deployment in Baghdad, Iraq, and his survival of a horrific suicide car bomber attack. In this he was fortunate to survive, but suffered significant life-altering injuries leading to a long, painful recovery. His story as a wounded warrior is a powerful reminder of the dangers brave women and men face serving our country. You can watch a short video that highlights his talk and moments from the breakfast.

My hope is that we recognize the sacrifices of our veterans and active duty servicemen and women not only on Veteran’s Day, but every day throughout the year. Thank you to our faculty, staff, students and Big Rapids community members who are veterans, and thank you to those who joined us on Sunday and Monday to pay tribute to our veterans, both past and present.

SPARC Meeting Update

At the Strategic Planning and Resource Council meeting on Tuesday, Higher Learning Commission Leadership Team members Jeff Ek, Kristi Haik, Jennifer Hegenauer and Mandy Seiferlein provided an update on the University’s reaffirmation of accreditation. I found the handout they distributed quite helpful in providing an overview of this process and would encourage you to review this. It includes brief statements on the Five Criteria for Accreditation –

Criterion One: Mission: The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.

Criterion Two: Integrity - Ethical and Responsible Conduct: The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

Criterion Three: Teaching and Learning - Quality, Resources, and Support: The institution provides quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

Criterion Four: Teaching and Learning - Evaluation and Improvement: The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.

Criterion Five: Institutional Effectiveness, Resources and Planning: The institution’s resources, structures, processes and planning are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.

A significant number of faculty and staff attended the first two Town Hall sessions held at the Kendall College of Art and Design and on the Big Rapids campus. They focused on Criterion 1: Mission using the draft of the University’s Assurance Argument. We thank you for participating in this discussion.

Please consider attending one of the upcoming Town Hall sessions on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 11:30 a.m. at the Kendall College of Art and Design, 17 Fountain St. NW, Room 212 or Thursday, Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. inside the University Center, Room 202. They will focus on Criterion 2: Integrity using the draft Assurance Argument. The remaining Town Hall sessions can be found online and are also listed below -

Kendall College of Art and Design

  • Monday, Dec. 2, 11:30 a.m. – Criteria 3 & 4, Woodbridge N. Ferris Building, Room 217
  • Wednesday, Jan. 15, 11:30 a.m. – Criteria 5, KCAD, 17 Fountain Street NW, Room 212

Big Rapids Campus

  • Tuesday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m. – Criteria 3 & 4, University Center, Room 202
  • Thursday, Jan. 16, 11 a.m. – Criteria 5, University Center, Room 202

The HLC Leadership Team has created a short, interactive quiz you can take that highlights important aspects of the process. It also includes key items and dates to remember as we move forward toward the reaccreditation visit Oct. 5 and 6.

On Tuesday Jennifer Dirmeyer, associate professor of Economics, was introduced as the new SPARC chair. In welcoming her to this new role I want to thank Spence Tower for the superb job he has done leading this group for the past five years. Please join me in thanking Spence for his leadership and Jennifer for accepting this leadership responsibility.

Budget Forum

Next week I will present an open budget forum to the campus community. Please join me on Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. in the University Center, Room 202, to review enrollment trends, look carefully at our University budget, consider future challenges and opportunities, and discuss plans for our financial future. I very much look forward to sharing this information with you, and hearing your thoughts and feedback as we move forward. Like you, I care deeply about this institution and the impact enrollment has on our University and our future. By working together, we can and will do well in this challenging higher education environment.


It was another exciting and successful weekend for Ferris athletics, with Fox Sports Detroit on campus to nationally televise our football team’s 21-16 victory against Grand Valley. Despite the cold weather, there was a great, enthusiastic crowd with over 7,900 people in attendance. With the win, our team is again GLIAC conference champions. This is the fourth time in the past six years our team has gone through the regular season undefeated with a 10-0 record. Our team is ranked 1st in the region and 2nd in the nation, and they do not play this weekend. We look forward to continued success in the NCAA Division II playoffs with postseason brackets announced Sunday at 5 p.m. on

Few teams in any sport will ever achieve two consecutive undefeated regular seasons. Congratulations to Head Coach Tony Annese, his coaching staff and this exceptional group of football student-athletes on this extraordinary accomplishment.

Our women’s volleyball team defeated Michigan Tech 3-2 on Friday and Northern Michigan 3-1 on Saturday. The team has one remaining regular season game tonight at Northwood. With a win, they will be the GLIAC Conference Champions for a remarkable 6th year in a row. Although the conference tournament matchups will not be announced until after this weekend’s games, it seems likely we will host a quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday evening, Nov. 20.

Our women’s soccer team defeated Northwood 6-0 on Sunday at home to advance to the GLIAC Tournament. They play Grand Valley in the GLIAC semifinals at 5 p.m. in Allendale.

Men’s basketball defeated Davis Elkins by nearly 30 points on Saturday, Alderson-Broaddus on Sunday 77-73, and Illinois Tech 76-49 on Wednesday. They are currently 6-0 on the season and in the midst of a series of 10 home games. Their next game is tomorrow at 3 p.m. against Findlay, a nationally ranked team. They follow this with a Wednesday evening contest vs. Hillsdale at 7 p.m.

Women’s basketball had their home opener last evening, scoring the first 19 points in the contest against Hillsdale for a convincing 85-59 victory. They are next in action at home Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against Ursuline.

This weekend ice hockey hosts Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday, with game times of 7:07 p.m. and 6:07 p.m. respectively. Tonight’s game is Veteran's Appreciation night. All American and Canadian veterans will be honored with a special program including a ceremonial puck drop, military anthems, remembrance poppies and more for fans. The team will also wear specialized camo uniforms that have raised over $5,000 for American Legion Post 98 in Big Rapids.

For the second consecutive year women's runner Katie Etelamaki has been selected to compete in the NCAA Division II National Championships in Sacramento, Calif. on Saturday, Nov. 23. Last weekend she earned all-region recognition at the D2 Midwest Regional Championships in Evansville, Ind.

Congratulations to our student-athletes and coaches on this extraordinary level of athletic achievement, and best wishes for continued success for our fall teams as they continue into NCAA post-season tournament play.

Holiday Schedule Announcement

As we look to the holidays, this December is an unusual month in which there is just one workday, Monday, Dec. 23, in the week that the University closes for the holidays. For this year, I believe it makes sense for Monday, Dec. 23 to be an additional holiday day for employees. As a result, the University will officially close for holiday break at the end of business on Friday, Dec. 20, and re-open on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. If you would normally work on Dec. 23, I am hopeful you can enjoy spending this extra holiday day with friends and family.

David L. Eisler, president