President's Message to Campus - Aug. 28, 2020


This week students are moving into their residence halls, bringing a feeling of energy and excitement to campus. Even with the new requirements of wearing masks and social distancing, our students were happy to be on campus and ready to begin their journey at Ferris State University. I want to thank everyone who welcomed students and their families at our First Impressions tents and who assisted our students with their belongings during Operation Move-In. Thank you for giving of your time to help our students in this way.

While many of our students are comfortable and prepared for their first few days on campus, there are others who may still be struggling with schedules, or in finding people, buildings, classrooms or offices. This may be their first time away from home for an extended period of time – and as in any new environment, especially now, this can come with a sense of uncertainty and anxiety. It is often easy to recognize someone who is confused or feeling uncertain. This summer we did not offer orientation on campus, and our new students may need your help. Your kind words, answers, directions or helpful assistance can make all the difference for our students in feeling welcome both on campus and in the community. Thank you for doing this and continuing to help our students as many of them navigate their way through our campuses for the first time.

Wednesday Provost Bobby Fleischman and I virtually connected with each of the all-college meetings. It was enjoyable to see familiar faces and to meet some of our new faculty and staff joining us this year. We look forward to when we see each other in person on campus.

New Faculty

It is a pleasure to welcome the following new full-time faculty to Ferris State University:

  • Mohamed Abusharkh, College of Business
  • Kevin Brennan, Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Travis Bussler, College of Business
  • Ryan Crandell, College of Engineering Technology
  • Dana Holcomb, College of Arts, Sciences and Education
  • John Kriscenski, College of Business
  • Melinda Myers, College of Arts, Sciences and Education
  • Brian Olmstead, Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Carolyn Sutherby, College of Arts, Sciences and Education
  • Jeremy Themm, College of Engineering Technology
  • Timothy VanderLaan, College of Health Professions
  • Kelly Vigants, College of Arts, Sciences and Education
  • Jun Yan, College of Business
  • Emily Zoet, College of Business

I am pleased each of these educators have chosen to join our University. Please take a moment to welcome them and help them succeed in their new academic home.

Founders’ Day Thursday, Sept. 3 

This year we will not host our annual Founders’ Day celebration in the typical fashion with the student, faculty and staff picnics on the Quad, the community and campus resource fair, and ice cream social. It is neither advisable nor permissible to host such large gatherings indoors or outdoors. Much of this celebration will happen virtually, but we will still honor the legacy of our founders, Woodbridge and Helen Ferris. This is a day to reflect on our past and celebrate the opportunity of our future. Much has changed over 136 years, but the wisdom and vision of Mr. and Mrs. Ferris are still reflected in our University today.

The resource fair for students and campus/community organizations will be presented virtually throughout the day. My Founders’ Day Address will be hosted on Zoom at 11 a.m. In this, I will highlight our past, present and future, along with some of the challenges and opportunities ahead for Ferris State University. Next David Pilgrim and Franklin Hughes will host a presentation on Zoom from 12 to 1:30 p.m. titled "Helping Others Rise,” featuring their recently published book “Haste to Rise: A Remarkable Experience of Black Education During Jim Crow.”  In place of the Ice Cream Social, there will be an ice cream truck on the Quad featuring frozen novelty bars for all to enjoy from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please note we are not encouraging the public to join us on campus at this time.

Higher Learning Commission

Our review by the Higher Learning Commission is scheduled for October 5 and 6, 2020. The majority of the 7-member peer review team will conduct the visit virtually, with only one in-state reviewer attending in-person. This visit will incorporate the entire University, including the Big Rapids campus, Kendall College of Art and Design, and our statewide and online locations. The agenda for the visit will include meetings with faculty, staff, administrators and students.

Final review of materials is currently underway as the September 7 portal lock date approaches. This includes the 35,000-word Assurance Argument that demonstrates how we meet or exceed all HLC Criteria for Accreditation, Assumed Practices and Federal Compliance requirements. In addition to the Assurance Argument, our submission to the portal includes a significant amount of material, including more than 750 pieces of supporting evidence, KCAD branch campus report, Federal Compliance report, and a COVID-19 report.

The last comprehensive HLC visit for Ferris was in the Spring of 2011, when we received a full 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation without additional reporting or visit requirements. We are indebted to the considerable efforts of our HLC Steering Committee members and to everyone who has helped contribute and prepare for this reaffirmation process. During September there will be information sessions with all stakeholders and the University community. Please plan to attend so you are prepared if contacted by a member of the HLC review team.

Closing Thoughts

I want to thank everyone who has worked so very hard this week to provide engaging, virtual meetings with colleagues and peers this week, and everyone who helped prepare this year’s Founders’ Day virtual events. This past evening, I saw an amazing statistic. Since March there have been 21,667 Zoom meetings on the Ferris account. Our world has indeed changed.

As you move about campus next week, it is important to wear your mask when you are inside University buildings and outdoors when you cannot maintain proper social distancing. Please remember to follow your area’s approved re-engagement plan, complete the daily symptom checker, wash/sanitize your hands often, clean and disinfect your work areas regularly, and help educate our students to follow these health and safety protocols. We need to set the example of the types of behavior we expect from our students.

Have a great, safe weekend, and I look forward to the beginning of the academic year on Monday. Thank you for all you are doing to help keep our campuses and communities safe.

David L. Eisler, president