Ferris State University President David Eisler and three honorary doctorate recipients addressed Class of 2016 graduates on Friday and Saturday, May 6-7, in Big Rapids. In all, more than 2,400 students graduated, this semester, and more than 1,700 participated in commencement ceremonies over the two-day period in Jim Wink Arena.
Spring commencement started with Friday’s afternoon ceremony for the College of Health Professions, followed by an evening session for the colleges of Arts, Sciences and Education and Pharmacy as well as the Doctorate in Community College Leadership. Commencement resumed, Saturday, with a morning ceremony for the College of Business. Saturday’s second session honored graduates of the Michigan College of Optometry and the College of Education and Human Services. Spring commencement concluded with an afternoon session to recognize graduates of the College of Engineering Technology.
“Each one of our graduates has a story to tell. Family and friends, teachers and mentors
play an important role in the success of virtually all of our graduates,” Eisler said. “And
then there is the dedication of our graduates, themselves, that has led them to the diploma that
they have earned.”
Featured commencement speakers, all Ferris alumni, received honorary doctorate degrees. Vivian Pickard, director of Detroit community partnerships for General Motors, received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letter while Jeffrey F. Harrold, chairman and CEO of Auto-Owners Insurance Company, and Robert Hegbloom, CEO of Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand, both received an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry.
Pickard, who spoke Friday, echoed her fellow honorary doctorate recipients as she expressed gratitude to Ferris. In her words to Class of 2016 graduates, Pickard also encouraged the university’s newest alumni to take advantage of what they have learned, at Ferris, and apply it to future opportunities to achieve success.
“I am humbled by this kind gesture from an institution that I love, dearly,” said Pickard, who spoke to graduates of the colleges of Arts, Sciences and Education and Pharmacy as well as the Doctorate in Community College Leadership, Friday evening. “To receive this from an institution that has given so much to me is more than I would have expected. Graduates, Ferris has provided you with the intellect to find employment. I wish you the best for a healthy, happy and productive life as you transition to your next phase.”
Harrold, who addressed College of Business graduates during Saturday’s early commencement ceremony, focused his words on themes of humility, hard work, perseverance and teamwork.
“Graduates, this day is really for you,” he said. “I’d like to say that it was just yesterday that I was where you are, now, but it has been a lot longer than that. You leave here with a diploma. It is a piece of paper that says that you are prepared for the challenges that you are about to face. You have received a wonderful gift, from this university, in an education. Don’t take it for granted. Honor it. Put it to good use. Make yourself, and make your families proud.”
To conclude Ferris’ 2016 commencement ceremonies, Hegbloom addressed graduates of the College of Engineering Technology. He emphasized that the newest Ferris alumni should be appreciative of the significance of graduation, be adaptable to the challenges and opportunities that life will present and to make a difference in a community.
“To the members of the class of 2016, we celebrate an important milestone in your
lives. Each of you has worked hard to earn your degree and you can feel proud of your
achievement,” he said. “Your time, here, has helped you develop the discipline and
critical thinking skills you will need to succeed in a world that is constantly changing.
If you work hard and love what you do, the world is full of opportunities. In the
end, it’s all about the legacy you leave behind. When you advance in your careers,
be sure to pay it forward. Lend your skills and talents to making a difference to
make a better community and a better world for those who come after you.”
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PHOTO CAPTION: Ferris State University President David Eisler congratulates a graduate during a ceremony on Friday, May 6 in Jim Wink Arena in Big Rapids. More than 2,400 students graduated during the Spring 2016 semester while more than 1,700 participated in commencement ceremonies on May 6-7.