President's Message to Campus - October 4, 2019


Last weekend was one of the best Ferris homecoming celebrations ever. Friday evening’s Alumni Reunion recognized a significant number of Golden Eagles, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation in 1969 from Ferris State College We also presented the Pacesetter and Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. Hearing the stories of these extraordinary graduates and the difference Ferris State University made for them both in their professions and in life is heartwarming and quite emotional. During the evening we also recognized local business owner Carlleen Rose as an honorary alumna for her extraordinary contributions to Ferris State University and our students.

The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of their chapters at Ferris with dinners on Friday and Saturday evening. More than 100 members attended each of these events, with brothers and sisters who founded these organizations present.

Saturday we had good weather and great crowds for alumni, college and fan tailgating activities. The parking lots closest to Top Taggart Field were packed by 11 a.m. for a football game that kicked off at 3 p.m. More than 5,400 people were in attendance to watch our football team deliver a 38-10 victory against Northern Michigan.

It truly was a great weekend to be a Bulldog. It is special to see and experience the pride of our alumni in their school and to hear their positive comments about the University today. Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate Bulldog pride and participated in the homecoming festivities throughout the weekend.

Ferris Forward Strategic Plan

At their regular board meeting this morning the Board of Trustees approved the University’s 2019-2024 strategic plan “Ferris Forward.” The plan continues to focus on our mission and values. It also includes a new vision statement for the University –

“Building on the vision of our founders, Ferris State University will be an agile and transformational university. By integrating theory and practice, we will foster opportunity, discovery, and professional preparation for a dynamic global society.”

The plan is built around five major strategic areas: Academic Programs and Offerings, Student Success, Institutional Effectiveness, Pride and Community, and Enhancing Resources.

Formulating the University’s new strategic plan involved the collaboration of many people across campus. I would like to thank the co-chairs of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee, David Pilgrim and Spence Tower, for leading this charge and the following individuals for their hard work in creating and developing this new plan:

Steering Committee Members: Tony Baker, Jennifer Dirmeyer, Lincoln Gibbs, Kristi Haik, Sarah Hinkley, Jennifer Johnson, Jake Martin, Suzanne Miller, Bob Murray, Kristen Salomonson, Lisa vonReichbauer, Michael Williams, Charles Wright, and administrative support staff Terri Cook and Patty Terryn.

Work Group Co-chairs and Members

Academic Programs and Offerings, co-chairs Peter Bradley and Sarah Hinkley, and members Amy Buse, Roxanne Cullen, Amy Greene, Paul Kwant, Jacqueline Peacock, Lisa Salvati and student Justin Ullrey;

Student Success, co-chairs Kathy Lake and Joy Pulsifer, and members Tia Brandel-Wilhelm, Antionette Epps, Anne London, Alex Manga, Angie Palmer, Julie Rowan, Rita Walters, Greg Wellman, and students Bobby Gill and Michael Buser;

Institutional Effectiveness, co-chairs Tony Baker, Angela Garrey and Cindy Horn, and members Lori Armstrong, Scott Clarehout, Jody Gardei, John Scott Gray, Scott Hinkley, Mary Holmes, Aaron Waltz, Karen Ottobre and Suzanne Miller;

Pride and Community, co-chairs Megan Biller and Kasey Thompson, and members Megan Eppley, Heather Woodworth and student Victoria Baklashev;

Enhancing Resources, co-chairs Jennifer Dirmeyer, and Bob Murray, and members Tom Dowling, Mike Grandy, Susan Jones, Karyn Kiio, Beth Logan, Steve Reifert and student Megell Strayhorn

Guiding Principles (Mission/Vision/Core Values), co-chairs Suzanne Miller and Lisa vonReichbauer, and members Brady Flachs, Jody Gardei, Lincoln Gibbs and Sarah Hinkley.

You can view the plan in its entirety on the 2019-2024 strategic planning website.

Executive Budget Update

This year’s state budget process has been unlike any in recent history. Budget negotiations between Gov. Whitmer and the Legislature broke down during September. The Legislature then produced a budget independently and submitted this to the governor. Late Monday evening Gov. Whitmer approved the budget, but made 147 line item vetoes totaling $950 million. On Tuesday the governor used the State Administration Board to transfer nearly $625 million within the state’s administrative departments.

There were two line item vetoes in the higher education budget; neither impacts Ferris, and the budget was approved as proposed by the Legislature. In this there is an overall funding increase of just .5%, but it also fully funds the Indian Tuition Waiver. This resulted in an overall increase of almost 2% for Ferris State University. This was $17,000 less than what we estimated in the University’s preliminary budget last May. Most importantly, this budget includes full funding for Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) students. In this limited funded scenario Ferris fared better than most public universities.

While the state has a budget, a government shutdown has been averted and the Ferris budget is secure, much wrangling over the $950 million in line item vetoes remains. There is not a precedent for this type of negotiation, but it seems likely that the focus for the immediate future in Lansing will remain on resolving these budget issues.

United Way

Our Big Rapids campus United Way campaign began yesterday with the annual kick-off breakfast in the University Center. This year’s campaign aims to raise $55,000 for local agencies to help those who fall under the ALICE criteria – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. With 43% of people living under the ALICE criteria in Mecosta and Osceola counties, this funding is critical to helping families and children. I encourage you to support this effort that does so much for our community.

Volunteers from across the University will be soliciting contributions that support a wide range of local service providers, including the American Red Cross, Project Starburst, W.I.S.E., local Meals on Wheels, and many other organizations our community relies upon in emergency situations. Linda Telfer and Jeanine Ward-Roof are co-chairing this worthwhile cause.

Please take a moment to consider how much you can share to help others when you receive your pledge card. You may give via payroll deduction, cash or check. Visit the Mecosta-Osceola United Way website for more information on the important work they do in helping our neighbors throughout the two-county area. Your one gift of support can help many deserving agencies in our community and is greatly appreciated.

The Rock Café 10-Year Anniversary

To meet the changing needs of our students, The Rock Café on the Big Rapids campus underwent an extraordinary transformation in 2009 from a traditional style cafeteria to an all you care to eat marketplace concept. Designed with our students in mind, The Rock Café continues to impress with the large variety of fresh foods and welcoming atmosphere that is enjoyed by our students, faculty, staff and the greater Big Rapids community.

To commemorate its 10-year anniversary, The Rock Café is hosting a celebration from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9. This features food trends and music from the past decade, a special dessert buffet with a chocolate fountain, games, prizes, a guest appearance by Brutus the Bulldog and more. If your schedule allows, please join us for the anniversary celebration of this great addition to our campus.


Coming off an exciting 38-10 homecoming win at Top Taggart Field last weekend, our nationally second-ranked football team heads to Caledonia on Saturday for a noon matchup against undefeated Davenport. The Bulldogs are currently 4-0 on the season, 2-0 in the GLIAC.

The volleyball team had a strong showing over homecoming weekend, sweeping both Purdue Northwest and Wisconsin Parkside 3-0 inside Ewigleben Arena. The team plays at home this evening against Northern Michigan at 7 p.m. and on Saturday against Michigan Tech at 3 p.m.

Our soccer team defeated Davenport 6-0 on Friday, but experienced their first loss on Sunday, to Ashland, falling 3-1. They are home this week against Northern Michigan today at 4 p.m. and Michigan Tech on Sunday at noon.

Last weekend our men’s golf team claimed runner-up honors in the Hawkshead Links Invitational in South Haven. The team shot a 283 team score in Saturday's opening round with rain forcing the cancellation of Sunday's final round. The men hit the links again on Sunday and Monday, Oct. 6-7, at the Northwood Invitational in Midland.

The women’s golf team also earned a runner-up finish at the Bulldog Fall Invitational held at Katke Golf Course. The women shot a 313 team score in the first round on Saturday and trailed Saginaw Valley State by only two strokes after round one before rain also forced the cancellation of Sunday's second round. The team travels to Findlay, Ohio for the Findlay Beall Fall Classic on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 7-8.

Finally, men’s tennis competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships in Grand Rapids this past weekend. Freshman Yannic Alexander Mader earned runner-up honors after reaching the final round of the tournament in singles action. He won his first four matches in the event, beating the second-seeded and defending regional champion by a 6-2, 6-3 score before falling in the championship match. This is quite an accomplishment in a tournament consisting of 128 players from 22 schools. Yannic is a candidate to receive an at-large singles bid for the ITA National Championships that take place this month in Georgia.

Congratulations to our student athletes and coaches on this stellar fall season.

David L. Eisler, president