BIG RAPIDS – Rick Duffett is first to concede that there is rarely an easy time to step away from more than 30 years of memories, friends, colleagues and accomplishments at Ferris State University.
Duffett started as Ferris’ first Division I ice hockey coach in 1975. Over the course of three decades of service, he worked his way up the university’s administrative ladder to become the vice president for Administration and Finance and University Advancement and Marketing. Now, feeling the timing is right to step aside, Duffett has formally announced his retirement from Ferris, effective June 30.
“It has been a great ride and I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Duffett, who earned his bachelor’s (1970), master’s (1971) and doctoral degrees (1988) from Michigan State University. “University leaders have been able to build a great relationship between the university and the community. In fact, I don’t think the relationship between the university and the community has ever been stronger than it is right now and I think a lot of credit for that has to go to President (David) Eisler and his efforts to reach out and build bridges between the two communities.”
Notable accomplishments Duffett has taken the most pride in during his time at Ferris include the implementation of the new administrative software systems (Banner), collaboration with Wolverine Cooperative, the merger between Ferris and the Kendall College of Art and Design, State Street improvements to enhance the beauty and visibility of the campus, improvements of athletic facilities, refinancing of bonds and his working relationships with seven university presidents. Duffett also is proud of the staff he has been able to work with during 30-plus years of service at Ferris and gives those individuals the credit.
“The staff has really been responsible for the great things that have happened at the university,” said Duffett, who also has taken pride in the work of The Ferris Foundation and its efforts to ease the financial burden for students who want to go to school at Ferris. “One of the biggest privileges I’ve had has been to work with so many wonderful, capable and confident people who enjoy what they are doing and who believe in what they are doing. We have an extraordinary group of people on our great staff that makes great things happen.”
Duffett has been active in the Big Rapids community having served in a number of capacities, including as university representative for the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce and chair of the successful United Way campaigns at Ferris. He also helped in the formation of the Big Rapids Economic Development Corporation, assisted with the development and formation of the Mecosta County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and more.
“Ferris has always been a place that provides great opportunities to students and staff in the past and will continue to be that in the future,” said Duffett, who was an All-American ice hockey player for Michigan State in 1969 prior to his arrival at Ferris. “I think people look at Ferris as a growing place right now with great academic programs. I really believe the future for Ferris is a very bright one here in Michigan.”