Our University lost a great leader on Sunday when Robert Ewigleben, our 12th president, passed away at the age of 91. President Ewigleben led a life full of learning, accomplishment and adventure. A United States Army veteran who served his country in Japan, he furthered his education and worked as a school teacher, coach, principal and superintendent. He began his higher education career at Purdue University, was vice president at Humboldt State University and then president of San Mateo Community College, at that time the largest community college in California. In 1971 he returned home to Michigan to serve as president of Ferris State College, a role he continued until 1984.
Dr. Ewigleben transformed Ferris during his 13-year tenure as president. There were many curricular and programmatic changes during this time, preparing the way for Ferris to become a university. Among his many accomplishments at Ferris include the creation of the Professional Golf Management degree, the first of its kind in the nation, establishing what is now the Michigan College of Optometry and bringing Division I hockey to Ferris.
I had the fortunate pleasure of getting to know Dr. Ewigleben, as he was instrumental in the creation of our Doctorate of Community College Leadership just over a decade ago. In his retirement, Dr. Ewigleben was a consistent donor for our sports complex, which was built during his tenure and subsequently named for him, for athletics and student scholarships. Patsy and I had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Ewigleben in mid-October. As always, he was keenly interested in the University and our plans for the future.
Among his many interests, Dr. Ewigleben was a scratch golfer, an avid sailboat racer, and a pilot. President Ewigleben was a good friend and colleague who made a tremendous difference for Ferris State University. He will be truly missed. More information on Dr. Ewigleben is accessible in his biography on the Ferris State University website.
A small family service will be held at a later date. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Robert L. Ewigleben endowment to support students in the Ferris Doctorate in Community College Leadership program. Please feel free to read the full obituary and leave a memory or condolence.
The Ferris flag will be flown at half-staff in memory of President Ewigleben on Friday,
Nov. 8, 2019.
David L. Eisler
President, Ferris State University
- Nov. 5, 2019