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Board of Trustees Honors University Founder Woodbridge N. Ferris

Ferris State UniversityThe renovated historic Federal Building in downtown Grand Rapids, which expanded Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design campus, will now be named the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building. The university’s Board of Trustees approved the name at its meeting on Friday, May 10, in Big Rapids. The change honors university founder Woodbridge N. Ferris.

Ferris founded the Big Rapids Industrial School on Sept. 1, 1884. The school was renamed Ferris Industrial School in 1885, Ferris Institute in 1898, Ferris State College in 1963 and Ferris State University in 1987. In addition to founding the university, Ferris was elected governor of the state of Michigan in 1912 and 1914, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1922. He died in office on March 23, 1928. The university’s emphasis on career-oriented degrees stems from Woodbridge Ferris’ original vision of a school dedicated to real-world, experiential education.

The Woodbridge N. Ferris Building recently received LEED Gold certification and won a Governor’s Award, from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, for the preservation and renovation of the historic facility that was originally dedicated in 1911. Through public-private partnership, the university invested about $28 million into the renovation project to expand the Kendall campus into 91,000 square feet of additional classroom, office and studio space.

Ferris President David Eisler said naming the building in honor of the university’s founder deepens the institution’s already strong commitment to working together with the city of Grand Rapids and the region.

“Given the success of this marvelous partnership and understanding the importance of the history and tradition of our institutions, naming the historic Federal Building for the founder of our university is a great symbol of our commitment to the City of Grand Rapids and West Michigan generally,” Eisler said.

In recognizing the contributions of its current president, the board voted to extend Eisler’s contract by one year after completing his annual assessment. His five-year contract now extends through June 30, 2018. The board’s increase of the president’s salary by 2.25 percent is consistent with increases this year for other administrative personnel.

Board Chair Gary Granger cited Eisler’s commitment to the university and the continuity of leadership he has provided to Ferris.

“The board feels very fortunate to have a relationship with a president so dedicated to the success of Ferris State University. We also feel fortunate that we have a long-term relationship that will continue for many years to come. The board fully supports Dave’s leadership,” Granger said.

In other news, trustees approved:

  • the administration’s request to issue bonds for an amount not to exceed $13 million required for completion of the University Center project;

  • the new Associate of Applied Science in Marketing degree. The degree was recommended by the College of Business to serve as a ladder for students who want to continue on to the Bachelor of Science in Marketing degree program;

  • issuing the rank of professor, posthumously, to Lucy Ngoh, who joined the faculty of the College of Pharmacy, in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department, in 1992. Ngoh died in December 2012 in a bus accident while delivering medication and supplies in Cameroon; and

  • the appointments and reappointments of seven members of the boards of directors for university-authorized charter schools.

In other news, trustees accepted:

  • the “Diversity at Ferris 2012” report from Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion David Pilgrim. The university’s original plan, approved by trustees on March 21, 2008, featured four strategic goals: Create a university that is welcoming to diverse populations; recruit, retain and graduate a diverse student population; hire and retain a diverse workforce; and create environments for student learning that are inclusive of and sensitive to a diverse student population. The full 24-page report can be reviewed on the Diversity and Inclusion website, here.

The next scheduled full meeting of the trustees is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 4 in Grand Rapids. The full board will meet at 11 a.m. following committee meetings at 10 a.m. The trustees are scheduled for a special meeting, via conference call, on Tuesday, July 9.