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Provost Welcome

Greetings Ferris State University Community: 

As I begin my second academic year as your Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, I wish to thank you as students, faculty, and staff for selecting Ferris State University as your institution of choice. As your Chief Academic Officer, I look forward to our collaboration as we navigate unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic and the resulting disruptions to our daily lives.  

My preparation for the Provost’s role began earlier last summer with members of our Re-entry Committee. Guided by the capable leadership of Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Jeanine Ward-Roof, I can attest that this team of administrators, faculty, staff and students continues to engage remarkable work in preparing our institution for a well-planned, safe and productive semester ahead. As Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Dr. Leonard Johnson worked tirelessly with our college Deans, Registrar, faculty and staff to ensure that we continued to deliver high-quality instruction regardless of the method of delivery (e.g., face-to-face; on-line; and hy-flex) in a way that protects the safety and wellness of our students, staff and instructors. The result: We remained open last year and taught more than 50% of all our classes via f-2-f delivery. 

While space limitations preclude the ability to properly acknowledge and applaud the efforts of all contributors for our re-entry efforts, leadership from the following campus constituents deserve well-earned recognition: Student Government; Ferris student representatives; our President’s Office, University divisions and colleges; Provost’s Office; Vice Presidents; Deans; Student Life; Registrar’s Office; Faculty Association and all bargaining units; Academic Senate; Birkam Health Center, Human Resources;  Physical Plant: Safety-Health-Environmental-Risk Management-Insurance; and Information Technology Services. 

Entering Ferris as a relatively new member of our Bulldog nation brings tremendous energy and excitement. As I continue learning about our campus communities, I grow ever more impressed by the work of our colleagues and students across our divisions, colleges, and programs. In particular, the “Ferris Forward” focus on student success and the high priority we place on serving the needs of students inspires purpose and drives the teaching-learning environment so essential for our work.  

From planning for re-entry – to establishing new, innovative academic programs focused on workforce development and providing a quality education that prepares students for an ever-changing, dynamic world beyond the classroom – our Vice Presidents, Deans, faculty and staff stand out as committed, strategic, innovative, and accountable for the success of Ferris students, as well as our diverse range of stakeholders.  
Alignment of Ferris’ strategic plan with the mission, vision and values of our institution provides a pivotal opportunity to shape an exciting future for the University and the students and families we serve. The impressive approach taken by the framers of the plan under the leadership of Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Strategic Initiatives, Dr. David Pilgrim, promises a bright and prosperous future with action steps, benchmarks, and accountabilities that promise to drive student success.  

In Academic Affairs’ partnership with the Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Strategic Initiatives, Dr. David Pilgrim, we are in the beginning stages of launching the Ferris Equity Initiative-Navigate CRM. This program, which is licensed by EAB, promises to enhance the student Journey at Ferris, with a focus on reducing the “achievement gaps” that exist for underrepresented student populations. 

As your Provost, I’m humbled by the honor to steward Ferris’ exceptional reputation for the liberal arts and proud history built on technical education and professional degree preparation. These distinctive assets will continue to provide a powerfully attractive foundation for our students, with special emphasis on a quality education that prepares graduates to enter a professional world of accelerating technological change. This constitutes a remarkable opportunity – for all of us – to make a pivotal difference through partnering.  Our spirited partnering will continue to shape a future for Ferris that serves our increasingly diverse student population and will bring sustainable distinction for Ferris among institutions within the state of Michigan, regionally, nationally, and internationally.  

Importantly, as we enter our 2021-2022 academic year, with leadership from Associate Provost Mandy Seiferlein, our institution will continue to celebrate the reaffirmation of our accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) last October. The HLC operates as our institution’s accrediting body, with responsibility for ensuring our capacity to deliver high quality programs and curriculum.  As we prepared for the HLC visit, we remained confident – based on the successful completion of our Quality Initiative project and the extensive preparation of our Assurance Argument – that we stood well positioned for sustained accreditation. Preparation for the visit encompassed an institution-wide effort, and I wish to acknowledge and thank the HLC Leadership Team, Steering Committee, Subcommittees and all members of our Ferris communities, who contributed to this critical element of our work as a University.  

Please note that as COVID-19 remains a threat to those with certain medical conditions, the University has an obligation to accommodate those who cannot safely attend class physically. The Educational Counseling & Disabilities Services Department coordinates these, and other, accommodations, and will connect with you whenever there is a request due to disability. Please connect with Ms. Julie Alexander, Director of Accessibility and Disability Services with questions or to consult on accommodations. 

In summary, please know how profoundly I welcome the journey ahead – in partnership with President Eisler and the many dedicated and impressive members of our institution – to fulfill the vision, mission, and values of Ferris State University. Despite the enormous challenges we face, I look “Ferris Forward” to working with you to build upon and enhance the legacy of our founders, Woodbridge and Helen Ferris, and to co-create with you the next inspiring chapters in the distinguished history of Ferris State University.  

Robert P. Fleischman, J.D., EdD. 
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs 
Ferris State University