Thousands of people enjoyed a cool, late-summer afternoon Thursday, Aug. 30 at Founders’ Day on the Ferris State University Campus Quad.
Dozens of campus departments, registered student organizations and community non-profits took to tables along the Quad’s sidewalks, offering gift items and performing outreach while paying tribute to the legacies of Ferris’ founders Woodbridge N. Ferris and Helen Gillespie Ferris. The first Thursday of the academic year has been established as the day to celebrate the university’s beginning, as the Big Rapids Industrial School was founded on Sept. 1, 1884.
Dean of Student Life Joy Pufhal said students loved the Office of General Counsel’s traditional ice cream social, which adds to the fun atmosphere and enjoyment of Founders’ Day.
“Their addition of Jones’ Ice Cream, made right in Baldwin, Michigan enhanced the local flavor of this annual event in celebration of Ferris and our university’s founders,” Pufhal said. “We appreciate the participation of celebrity servers from the Big Rapids community and all the administrators and other campus leaders in yesterday’s festivities which remind us of all that Ferris and its hometown of Big Rapids offers.”
Big Rapids Mayor Tom Hogenson, a 1975 graduate of Ferris’ Nursing program, was among those dutifully offering up large cups of ice cream to the cross-section of campus and community visitors on the Quad.
“I know that when I attended Ferris, classes were on the quarter system and I don’t specifically recall Founders’ Day celebrations at that time,” Hogenson said. “That does not mean that we lacked for those chances to bring the campus community and folks from Big Rapids together.”
Hogenson said volunteering as a celebrity server was a pleasure and not a chore for him. The mayor added that his motivation for taking part was a simple one.
“I don’t see this as a chance to promote anything, beyond offering others the simple enjoyment of a cup of ice cream,” Hogenson said. “Virtue is its own reward.”
Muskegon’s Brianna Vallier, a Ferris student in the Product Design Engineering Technology program, was accompanied by her dachshund, Cheeto, as she waited in line for her ice cream treat. Vallier said she was glad to be participating in what was her fourth Founders’ Day celebration.
“I brought my grandmother today because she wanted to experience this,” Vallier said. “I think it is fun to come to this each year and I make a point to do it since I don’t attend many other events during the school year.”
Founders’ Day is a highlight activity as part of Bulldog Beginnings, a 16-day schedule of events and happenings to bring Ferris students together at
the beginning of the academic year.
PHOTO CAPTION: Ferris State University students, staff and faculty were joined by Big Rapids community members on the Campus Quad Thursday, Aug. 30, for the annual Founders' Day celebration, complete with celebrity servers handing out Jones Ice Cream.