President's Message to Campus - November 22, 2019

International Education Week

The week of Nov. 18-22 is designated as International Education Week.  The Office of International Education celebrated this week with the University community by highlighting our international students, and recognizing faculty who have built partnerships with international universities, creating expanded opportunities for our students.

The development of a Comprehensive Internationalization Plan (CIP) is currently underway. This is led by a steering committee co-chaired by Olukemi Fadayomi, Piram Prakasam and Christine Vonder Haar. Their intent is to engage nearly 450 members of the campus community throughout the planning process. In this they are partnering with the Staff Center for Training and Development to offer a CIP certificate to Ferris faculty and staff who engage in the process.

To cap off International Education Week, the Office of International Education is hosting a potluck today from 12 to 1:30 p.m. in IRC 104, which is open to all faculty and staff. Please help join in the celebration. This week is a good time to thank everyone engaged in International Education for their hard work in providing our students, faculty and staff with global educational and professional development opportunities.

Provost Search Update

The University has contracted with Academic Search, Inc. to assist with the search for the next Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Virginia Horvath and Kate Nolde will be visiting campus on Monday, Dec. 2, and Tuesday, Dec. 3, to work with the search committee, gather input from a wide range of constituencies and to hear from the greater campus community about the qualities desired in the next provost.   

Please participate and provide your input at one of the open forums scheduled immediately after the Thanksgiving break –

  • Monday, Dec. 2, 1:30 to 3 p.m., University Center Founders’ Room
  • Tuesday, Dec. 3, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m., University Center Room 202C.

These forums are open to all. Your input, participation and engagement in this search are important and much appreciated. Thank you to committee co-chairs Gayle Lopez and David Pilgrim, and the 16-member search committee, for the time and effort they are investing in this search.

Budget Forum

Thank you to everyone who attended the open budget forum yesterday afternoon. In this I looked back at the fiscal results from 2019, provided information on the 2020 budget, examined revenue and enrollment, looked forward to 2021, and discussed current strategic efforts on enrollment. 

We all realize the impact of changing demographics, especially the continued decline in Michigan high school graduates, on college enrollment. This is one of the most competitive higher education environments in the country. I am encouraged by the increased numbers of freshman students in Big Rapids and believe there are both promising signs and exceptional efforts underway on enrollment. Much of this is outlined in our new strategic plan and underway. These strategic initiatives will make an important difference for our future.

Our approach to planning the budget is straight forward – inputs need to match outputs, and expenses balance with revenues. As a result; in a time of reduced revenue, we have reduced the budget. I am hopeful we will see an increase in enrollment, both in Big Rapids and with online offerings. However, if enrollment does not stabilize, additional budget reductions will be necessary.

If you did not have an opportunity to attend the budget forum, please take a few moments to review the slides presented. If you have questions, ideas or suggestions, please e-mail them to me at [email protected]

December Activities

This is a unique calendar year, with only one week of classes after the Thanksgiving break. As we prepare for the end of the fall semester, it is also time to celebrate the holidays. I encourage you to join us for our holiday receptions in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Dec. 3, and in Big Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 5. Tuesday’s holiday reception will be held at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, 2 Fulton St. West in Grand Rapids, while Thursday’s reception will be held at the University Center. Please join us between 4 and 6 p.m. at either location to relax, visit and celebrate the holiday season.

On the evening of Monday, Dec. 9, we will be serving pancakes to our students at the Rock Café beginning at 10 p.m. This event provides an opportunity to visit with students and it gives them a much-needed break from studying. I encourage you to join us and spend this time with our students. To assist that evening, please contact our office at ext. 2500.

Athletics

Last Friday was an exciting night for our volleyball team as they defeated Northwood 3-0, securing the regular-season GLIAC championship for the 6th year in a row. On Wednesday the team defeated Wisconsin – Parkside in the quarterfinal conference tournament 3-0 and will now host the semifinal and finals this Saturday and Sunday at the Ewigleben Sports Arena. The team will play in the first semifinal match on Saturday at 3 p.m. against fifth-seeded Wayne State. With a win, they will advance to the GLIAC Championship Tournament finals on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Sunday evening the football post-season tournament brackets were announced. As the #2 team in the nation, Ferris is the number one seed in the Midwest region. We have a first round bye this weekend and will be playing at home on Nov. 30 at 1 p.m. Our opponent will be the winner of the first-round game between Central Missouri and the University of Indianapolis.

Although it is early in the season, our men’s basketball team is off to a promising start. Last weekend the team beat Findlay, like Ferris previous national champions, 89-78 after trailing by 18 points in the second half. On Wednesday the team defeated Hillsdale 82-67 and is now 7-0 on the season. The team hosts another perennially strong team, Lewis (Ill.) at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Last evening women’s basketball defeated Ursuline 93-66 and is home this weekend against Southern Indiana at noon on Saturday. They are off to a great start, and are currently 3-1 on the season.

There were many honors posted this week for our student-athletes. In football, a record number of 23 student-athletes claimed 2019 All-GLIAC accolades, which is the most in a single year in school history. In addition, the team had the GLIAC Player of the Year in senior defensive end Austin Edwards, the league's Defensive Back of the Year in senior cornerback James Ceasar and the Offensive Lineman of the Year in senior guard Tyler Allison.

Volleyball senior Allyson Cappel was named to the 2019 College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District First Team for her combined performances on the court and in the classroom. Soccer’s sophomore forward Pia Nagel and junior midfielder Bri Rogers were chosen as 2019 Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-Midwest Region First Team honorees.

It is extraordinary to have this level of team and individual athletic success. I encourage you to come out and support our football, basketball and volleyball teams as they represent Ferris State University in outstanding fashion. Please join me in congratulating our student-athletes and coaches on exceptional seasons.

Closing Thoughts

With Thanksgiving break next week, it is my hope that this will be a time when you can relax, share time with friends or relatives, and prepare for the final days of the fall semester. Please take care if you are travelling.

With a short time remaining in this semester after Thanksgiving, we will return to a period of intense activity. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your work throughout the year, and your efforts to help our students thrive and succeed. I look forward to the final weeks of this year as we prepare for our December Commencement ceremonies. 

Happy Thanksgiving,

David L. Eisler, president