President's Message to Campus - November 1, 2019

HLC Town Hall Meetings

The Higher Learning Commission Steering Committee is hosting a series of Town Hall meetings to continue to engage you in preparation for our reaffirmation of accreditation visit in October 2020. Scheduled for November through January on the Big Rapids campus and at Kendall College of Art and Design, these will provide information on the HLC’s five Criteria for Accreditation and the draft Assurance Argument being released today to the University community. This describes how the University meets the five Criteria for Accreditation and is provided as an evidentiary report to the HLC.  

Your input and engagement are both valuable and important. Please take time to review the draft Assurance Argument and attend one or more Town Hall meetings. Your feedback and recommendations to the Steering Committee are needed as we move forward on this regional accreditation process for our University.  

A complete schedule of the upcoming Town Hall meetings is available online. Also available here are the communications sent to campus by the HLC Steering Committee and Leadership Team via University Wide Notices. For additional information, the Academic Affairs webpage has a section titled “About Accreditation” on the left navigation panel.

Thank you to everyone who has worked to prepare the Assurance Argument and to move the reaffirmation of accreditation process forward. If you have specific questions, I encourage you to reach out to a member of the HLC Leadership Team - Jeff Ek, Kristi Haik, Jennifer Hegenauer, Tara McCrackin or Mandy Seiferlein. I am very grateful for their work on this, and the work of the entire HLC Steering Committee.

Good News

This month’s Good News highlights the many achievements of our faculty, staff and students. It is wonderful to see the collaboration occurring on campus and across the state. I encourage you to take a few moments to read about the accomplishments of your colleagues and our students. While the complete Good News list is online, below is a small sample.

  • Muskegon Montessori Academy for Environmental Change, a Ferris-authorized charter school, is the top performer on the M-STEP in Muskegon County.
  • The Charter Schools Office sponsored and offered to staff of all charter schools statewide a series of workshops by national presenters on establishing and maintaining positive school cultures. 
  • Christian Peterson and Barry Mehler presented “What, then, is the American,” and “The Future and History of Immigration in the United States” at the History Area and Political Engagement Project’s “Passion for the Past” panel. 
  • Beth Zimmer and Scott Cohen co-authored “The New Chair’s Role: Faculty, Mentor, Advisor, Supervisor?” in the journal The Department Chair.
  • David Takitaki, Jennifer Johnson, Matthew Smith, Mari Kermit, Kristi Scholten, Evan Watts and Tracy Russo attended the Game Storm conference at Central Michigan University focused on game-based learning, and Andrew Peterson presented on resources for game designers.   
  • Carole McKenna and Joe Verschaeve attended the Michigan Sociological Association annual conference and were accompanied by student Artrell Coker who serves as a student officer on the MSA Executive Board.
  • David Takitaki attended the Michigan Political Science Association annual meeting and was elected as an undergraduate institution representative to the MIPSA Executive Board.
  • Richard Marble joined the Board of Advisers for the industry trade magazine Laboratory Animal Science Professional and recently published his fourth article.
  • Students Austin Moody, Kyle Bolander and Timothy Molnar received full scholarships ($22,000) to the Applied CyberSecurity certificate program from the SANS Technology Institute.
  • David White co-published “Analyzing the State of U.S. Policing” in the Law Enforcement Bulletin and “Research in Brief: Body-Worn Cameras – Command-Level Attitudes After Implementation” in Police Chief Magazine.
  • Vanessa Wyss presented “STEM-ulating Activities on Human Ecology” at the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education.
  • Students Jessica Goldsworthy and Spencer Potter represented Ferris in the Clinical Skills Competition at the Michigan Society of Health-Syst­­em Pharmacists annual meeting and will head to Las Vegas in December to compete in the national competition.
  • Pharmacy faculty Teresa Bailey, Tracey Mersfelder, Eric Nybo, Minji Sohn and Michelle Sahr have had manuscripts and book chapters published.
  • Pharmacy faculty Teresa Bailey, Rose Baran, Tom Dowling, Shelby Kelsh, Michael Klepser, Renee Koski, Tracey Mersfelder, Anne Ottney, Ben Pontefract, Michelle Sahr, Minji Sohn, Dean Vanloo, and Mark Young made presentations throughout the state and nation during September and October.
  • Tracy Russo shared information on virtual reality projects as part of a panel on Innovative Pedagogical Spaces and facilitated an Inspire! session on Copyright and Instructional Design at the Association of Educators for Computers and Technology in Las Vegas.
  • Forty-two MCO students along with Michigan Optometric Association members traveled to Lansing for Capital Day 2019.
  • Paula McDowell presented “Digital Devices” Screens, Strain, and Stats” and “Optometric Care of Transgender Patients,” with Lillian Kalaczinski at the West Michigan Optometric Association.
  • MCO faculty and administration were active participants at the American Academy of Optometry annual meeting presenting papers, posters and lectures. At this meeting Lillian Kalaczinski became a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.
  • Leah Melichar was elected to the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships Research Commission as the Region II representative.
  • This fall represents the 40th anniversary of the Bulldog logo, created in 1979 by student Terry Davenport working in the school’s sports information office when his father, Dean Davenport, was the school’s athletic director.
  • Kendall College of Art and Design signed an articulation agreement with Ivy Tech Community College that will enable students in Ivy Tech’s Environmental Design program to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design at KCAD.
  • Master of Architecture students Lisa Castro and Huaming Wang received Student Project Awards from the American Institute of Architects Grand Rapids chapter.
  • Students and faculty in the Digital Art and Design program received a bronze medal in the Serious Play Board Game competition for Miner Madness, a game that helps students develop critical thinking skills, logic and systematic cognition while learning code theory.
  • Gayle DeBruyn attended the 8th Americas RCE Meeting 2019, organized through the United Nations’ Global Network of Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development.
  • UICA received a $15,000 project grant from the Michigan Council for Art and Cultural Affairs to support 2020 exhibitions and a $2,400 New Leaders Grant to support Artworks, UICA’s summer program for teens.
  • More than 2,560 students and guests participated in the Bulldog Family and Friends festivities, up significantly from 1,678 attendees last year.
  • The Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid, along with nearly 40 volunteers, hosted the Get Real! event with a total of 517 students from Ferris and the Mecosta-Osceola ISD Career Center.
  • Enrollment Services joined forces with Morley Stanwood High School to begin M2B4 (Mohawks to Bulldogs in 4 years) which involves “adopting” the MSHS freshman class and providing activities to orient students to college.
  • Jeanine Ward-Roof was an inaugural recipient of the Circle of Excellence from NODA, the Association for Orientation, Transition and Retention in Higher Education.
  • Three Registered Student Organizations have been reactivated: First Generation Student Organization, Global Bridges, and Operations and Supply Chain Management Association.
  • More than 1,050 students attended the Career and Internship Fair in October where 262 employers were in attendance.
  • The Title IX Office, University Center and Dean of Student Life Office hosted the Association of Student Conduct Administrators’ Sexual Misconduct Institute in October.
  • The Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge has now generated 5,445 gifts and pledges to new and existing endowments, with more than $8.71 million of new gift commitments from Ferris benefactors. With the match, this creates more than $17.42 million of new endowed funds for the support of Ferris students.
  • More than 150 pharmacy students, faculty, staff, emeriti and supporters were in attendance for the College of Pharmacy open house and rededication of the renovated Hagerman Pharmacy Building in September.
  • Ferris’ social media accounts saw increased activity following the release of three versions of the new commercial. In the first two weeks after the release, the anthem, 30-second and 15-second videos were viewed more than 37.6K times on YouTube, 22K-plus times on Facebook, 14.6K times on Twitter, more than 7K times on LinkedIn and nearly 1.9K times on Instagram.
  • The @ferrisstateu Instagram account now has more than 10,300 followers and has featured more than 2,700 posts from University contributors, including staff and students.
  • The top-performing video on the University’s Facebook page for September 2019 was the unveiling of the new anthem television commercial reaching more than 56,000 people.
  • The University’s homepage has been updated to include new images from the “Ferris Forward” marketing campaign and transitions between varying themes that when clicked upon, present a news story or website that will provide additional information on the value of a Ferris education.

Pixar Animation Studios – Bill Zahn

Next Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. the University will welcome Pixar Animation Studios character artist and designer Bill Zahn to the Big Rapids campus. Mr. Zahn has worked as a lead artist on the movies Bill & Ted’s Bogus JourneyMen in BlackGodzillaJurassic Park and Toy Story, in addition to creating the popular Budweiser frogs. He has been with Pixar for the last 15 years working on Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Cars 2, Toy Story 3, The Good Dinosaur and Coco, and most recently completing work on Toy Story 4 which released this summer.

His talk, inside the University Center Room 202, will share the process of creating some of the big screen’s most memorable characters. He will also tell his personal story of how, at age 19 and with $60 to his name, he packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles to chase his dream. He is passionate about his career and, like our founders Woodbridge and Helen Ferris, making the world a better place. He says, “Stepping out into the unknown and tackling the biggest challenges are what life is all about, and while our inner voice may tremble in terror at what lies ahead, we move forward, because even the smallest chance to bring a smile to someone else’s face, is worth all the risk.”

Dinner and Dialogue

As part of the National First Generation Student celebration week, faculty and staff are hosting a “Dinner and Dialogue” with our first generation students on Thursday, Nov. 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. in FLITE 240. During the event, students will enjoy a meal and participate in a deliberative dialogue about experiences that have enabled them to transition to college successfully. This event is supported in part by a Ferris Foundation Merit Grant awarded to Emmanuel Jadhav and colleagues Jason Bentley, Jody Maloney, Elizabeth Burbatt and Kristin Conley. Learning experiences such as this are a wonderful way to connect with our first generation students and build meaningful relationships to help our students succeed. Thank you for providing this opportunity for our students.


Last weekend our football team had another big win, defeating Saginaw Valley 34-10, gaining over 620 yards of offense. They are now 8-0 and will take on Michigan Tech in Houghton on Saturday at 1 p.m. Our team is in position to receive a sixth consecutive NCAA Division II Playoff appearance as it is ranked #1 this week in the initial NCAA Super Region Three Rankings. The top seven teams at the end of the regular-season will advance to the Division II Playoffs with the top team earning a first-round playoff bye.

Kickoff for the final regular season home football game on Saturday, Nov. 9, has been moved up three hours to 12:07 p.m. as part of Fox Sports Detroit's "Football Week In Michigan" promotion. This game, against Grand Valley in the Anchor-Bone Classic, will be the only nationally-televised college football game in the state in that time slot. Along with being aired on Fox Sports Detroit, the game will also air on Fox College Sports across the country.

On campus our nationally 20th ranked volleyball team will host a pair of games this weekend with Saginaw Valley tonight at 7 p.m. and Lake Superior on Saturday at 3 p.m. If you are in Big Rapids this weekend, come out and cheer this outstanding team on to victory.

David L. Eisler, president