Spring Commencement Features Nearly 1,900 Graduates, Honorary Doctorate Recipients

Ferris State University
PHOTO CAPTIONS: Nearly 1,900 graduates of Ferris State University will participate in commencement exercises on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5. The images are from past commencement ceremonies hosted in Jim Wink Arena in Big Rapids.

Ferris State University will host ceremonies for 1,885 graduates participating in Spring 2018 commencement exercises on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, Ferris State UniversityMay 5 in Jim Wink Arena. In all, 2,200 students will graduate – a figure that includes 800 students graduating at the end of the Summer 2018 term.

Additionally, honorary doctorate degrees will be conferred to Alex Gorsky, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson; Robert and Ellen Thompson, of The Thompson Foundation; and Teresa McKay, an alumna and director of the Department of Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Gorsky, receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Health Professions, will speak to graduates of the College of Health Professions and the Michigan College of Optometry during the 3:30 p.m. session on Friday, May 4. Friday’s second session, starting at 7 p.m., features ceremonies for the College of Arts and Sciences, Doctorate in Community College Leadership and College of Pharmacy. On Saturday, the Thompsons will receive the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters addressing graduates of the College of Education and Human Services during the 9 a.m. session. The 12:30 p.m. ceremony features graduates of the College of Engineering Technology. McKay, receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry, addresses graduates of the College of Business, at 4 p.m.

Below are biographical capsules of the Spring 2018 honorary doctorate recipients:

Gorsky, chairman of the board and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, was the keynote speaker at the university’s inaugural Spathelf Lecture Series in 2013 and returned to the Series in 2017 to share his global perspectives on healthcare with students and faculty. He has been named one of the “100 Most Inspiring Leaders” by Pharma Voice and recently received the Joseph Wharton Leadership Award and the CADCA Humanitarian of the Year Award. Gorsky earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy, at West Point, N.Y., and spent six years in the U.S. Army before he finished his military career holding the rank of captain. He earned a Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in 1996.

The Thompsons have made a profound impact on Michigan. Robert built his company, Thompson-McCully, into Michigan’s largest asphalt paving company. In his 40 years in the industry, he helped lead the paving business, serving as chairman of the National Asphalt Paving Foundation, president of the Michigan Road Builders Association and other leadership roles. Ellen began her career as an elementary school teacher and has a passion for teaching, education and students. Together they created the Thompson Foundation which established the Robert and Ellen Thompson Scholarship Program for Working Families at Ferris. This began at Ferris in 2016 with 10 students receiving scholarship support. A second cohort of 30 freshmen and 15 transfer students was added in 2017. The Thompsons plan to increase these numbers each year, so that by 2019 they will support 144 Thompson Scholars with their scholarship support.

McKay, a 1982 College of Business alumna who earned a Bachelor of Science in Business/Accounting, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry. Gorsky will be presented an Honorary Doctorate of Health Professions. The Thompsons will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. McKay directs a workforce of 12,000 employees and manages disbursements in excess of half a trillion dollars. A certified public accountant, certified government financial manager and certified management accountant, she earned a Master of Business Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery. McKay has served on the College of Business Accountancy Advisory Board the last 13 years. During that time, she has counseled students, supported the hiring of College of Business interns within her agency, and promoted the hiring of many Ferris graduates.

Students planning to participate in Spring 2018 commencement ceremonies may request up to six electronic tickets. No extra e-tickets will be distributed by the Commencement Office or the individual college commencement coordinators. Lost tickets will not be replaced. Guests who do not have tickets can watch the ceremonies via live stream on the Commencement Office website or on a large screen from an alternate viewing location in the Ewigleben Sports Complex. Click special accommodations for more information.

E-tickets are required to attend all Big Rapids commencement ceremonies. Children 2 years old and younger do not need a ticket.

Kendall College of Art and Design will host its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 5 at the Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids beginning at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are required to attend.

Click commencement for more information.

Spring 2018 Commencement Ceremonies

Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5

Location: Ewigleben Sports Complex (Jim Wink Arena)

Friday, May 4

3:30 p.m. (Convocation Center doors open at 2:30 p.m.)
College of Health Professions
Michigan College of Optometry

7 p.m. (Convocation Center doors open at 6 p.m.)
College of Arts and Sciences 
College of Pharmacy
Doctorate in Community College Leadership

Saturday, May 5

9 a.m. (Convocation Center doors open at 8 a.m.)
College of Education and Human Services

12:30 p.m. (Convocation Center doors open at 11:30 a.m.)
College of Engineering Technology

4 p.m. (Convocation Center doors open at 3 p.m.)
College of Business