A celebration of the Ferris State University student experience and acknowledgment of new and continuing donors’ generosity is planned for Friday, Nov. 1. That evening, The Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit will be hosted in Exhibit Hall “C” of Grand Rapids’ DeVos Place Convention Center.
The 21st annual gala event will begin at 5 p.m. with a cocktail hour, according to Robert Murray, executive director of The Ferris Foundation and associate vice president for Advancement.
“Our audience should enjoy a variety of exhibitions that will illuminate the student life experience on our campuses,” Murray said. “We have enjoyed great collaboration with our college and departmental partners, whose representatives will greet our guests as they tour the exhibit space. There are still sponsorship opportunities available for the Benefit, and those interested should contact Administrative Assistant Kim Erickson for further details.”
After-dinner Benefit activities include an update on Now and Always, The Campaign for Ferris State University. Murray said the comprehensive campaign to invest in students, support the expansion and innovation of programs and build partnerships has enjoyed great momentum in the last year.
“We will take the opportunity to highlight an Opportunity Scholarship recipient who inspires us, by establishing a Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge gift with his new employer,” Murray said. “There will also be recognition of some of the lead gifts recently offered to the campaign, and the chance to hear from those who are making a difference with our Exceptional Merit Grant and Opportunity Scholarship awards.”
The Benefit’s keynote speaker, this year, is Robert Hegbloom, a 1986 graduate of Ferris’ Automotive Management program. Hegbloom has a story at Fiat Chrysler, where he is currently vice president of Ram Brand International. Hegbloom received an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry from Ferris, in 2016, and was appointed to the university’s Board of Trustees, in 2017.
“All of my life and career experiences have grown from the foundation I received from my father,” Hegbloom said. “The passion he showed, as we attended swap meets or worked on cars and trucks together, instilled my desire as a lifelong learner.”
Hegbloom excelled in the classroom and athletically as a Ferris student. He earned four baseball varsity letters and served as a Bulldog co-captain. Hegbloom was also named a member of the All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team.
“I love my job and don’t feel like it is work, when I travel the world, developing the Ram Brand,” Hegbloom said. “The experiences I enjoyed at Ferris have carried me all through my life.”
Erickson said individual tickets, sponsorship opportunities and faculty, staff and emeriti tickets for the Benefit will be available through Friday, Oct. 18.