President's Message to Campus - Dec. 11, 2020

Today marks the final instructional day for fall semester. As everyone who works with students understands, this has been a challenging semester for them. Our students have demonstrated much resilience, and by necessity have had to adapt to changing conditions and the uncertainty of this pandemic. I am very proud of all they have accomplished. As our students take their final exams next week, for some it is their last semester at Ferris State University. If you know of a student who is graduating next weekend, please take a few moments to share in their accomplishments, offer congratulations or a word of encouragement as they begin their next journey. 

While we are not able to host traditional commencement ceremonies for our December graduates, our commencement team has developed a special virtual celebration to honor, recognize and celebrate the Class of 2020. Because it is virtual, everyone who would like to view the ceremonies can do so on Saturday, Dec. 19. Both the 10 a.m. and the 1:30 p.m. ceremonies will be available for viewing beginning at 10 a.m. Graduates from the College of Business and the College of Health Professions will be in the 10 a.m. ceremony, and the 1:30 p.m. ceremony will recognize graduates from the College of Arts, Sciences and Education, and the College of Engineering Technology. You will find a direct link to watch the ceremonies on the Virtual Commencement webpage.

I want to thank everyone involved who is working to make these ceremonies special for our graduates. When it is safe to hold our next in-person commencement ceremony, graduates from both May and December will be invited to take part in an in-person celebration on campus. We look forward to doing so when we are able.

As this semester closes I also want to thank you for the efforts you have made this fall, working to keep our campuses open and safe, and to make certain our students could continue to receive their education. This has been difficult, challenging work as we deal with the greatest pandemic of our lifetimes. Many people have gone above and beyond to help, sharing their expertise, adapting as needed and making this semester possible. Each of us can feel that there is a relentlessness to this experience, and there are times where we cannot do everything we want and sometimes even need to do. No one could have imagined or predicted the impact of COVID-19 on our nation or world. Nevertheless, you have persevered, and because you have persevered, so has Ferris State University. I appreciate very much what you have and are doing. Thank you.

Good News

It is a pleasure to include this strong list of accomplishments by the Ferris community. Much good work is occurring and there are many points of pride. Thank you for making Ferris State University such a special place. Below is just a small sampling of the many good works submitted. There are 125 separate items in this month’s compilation of your work.  When you have a few moments, please review the entire Good News list online.

  • Tracy Busch presented the Ferris Museum of Sexist Objects - “100 years later: how far have we come?” and “Off the Pedestal & Into the Streets,” a comparison of the suffrage movement and the Equal Rights Amendment at the virtual American Association of Women of Michigan annual meeting.
  • Rita Walters was a panelist for the Big Rapids Race and Social Justice Community Forum and she presented “Understanding the Unique Needs and Challenges of Children with Disabilities: What Foster Care Providers Should Know” at a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services workshop.
  • Rhonda Bishop, Victor Piercey and Mischelle Stone published the article “Using a Faculty Learning Community to Promote Interdisciplinary Course Reform" in the Journal of Mathematics and Science: Collaborative Explorations.
  • Karen Barkel and colleagues published Chapter 10 titled “Colonization of coastal and estuarine environments” in Evolution and Biogeography, Volume 8, The Natural History of the Crustacea.
  • Christian Peterson and Martin Nekola (Czech Republic) participated in a virtual panel presentation titled “How Safe is Democratic Government? Contemporary Populism in the United States and Europe.”
  • Gary Huey and Christian Peterson presented virtually during the Department of Humanities Colloquium Series entitled “1969:  Racial Unrest at Ferris State” with special guest and Board of Trustees emeritus Ron Snead.
  • Dan Noren received the Michigan World Language Association’s Distinguished Service Award for 2020.
  • Tom Stoffer’s writing prompt was chosen for the Association for Business Communication’s Annual National Writing Contest in Spring 2020.
  • Dan Ding’s book, The Historical Roots of Technical Communication in the Chinese Tradition, has been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing House.
  • Deirdre Fagan had a poem, “Month of the Dead,” appear in the Boston Literary Magazine October 2020 issue, and her essay, “Taken,” appeared in eMerge magazine’s Fall 2020 issue.
  • Biology student Talicia Dukes and colleagues at the University of Chicago published “Transfer of odor perception from the retronasal to the orthonasal pathway” in Chem Senses.
  • Students Maria Gonzalez Chavez and Haidar Sounboula-Elhassani, and Allison Bernknopf discussed Spanish, Arabic and Jewish cultural awareness at Pharmacy’s college-wide meeting.
  • Heather Girand authored two book chapters entitled “Infectious Diarrhea” and “Pediatric Vaccines” in the textbook Pediatric Pharmacotherapy, Second Edition.
  • Anne Ottney co-authored an opinion paper entitled "Mobilizing pharmacists to address the opioid crisis: A joint opinion of the ambulatory care and adult medicine practice and research networks of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy" in the Journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.
  • Sonali Kurup co-authored a review article entitled “Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs): A brief overview of clinically approved drugs and combination regimens” in the journal Current Opinion in Pharmacology.
  • Minji Sohn authored two chapters entitled “Drug Distribution System” and “Pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacovigilance” in Remington: The Science and Practice of Pharmacy 23rd Edition.
  • Ben Pontefract co-authored a research paper entitled “Linezolid to Treat Urinary Tract Infections Caused by Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus” in the journal SAGE Open Medicine.
  • Lisa Meny co-authored a committee report entitled “The Report of the 2019-2020 Professional Affairs Standing Committee: Pharmacist Integration with Primary Care Practices” published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education.
  • Lisa Salvati co-authored a research paper entitled “Comparison of diagnosis and prescribing practices between virtual visits and office visits for adults diagnosed Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
  • David Bright and Minji Sohn, along with students Nicole Bailey, Patricia Kaarto and Jessica Burkey, co-authored a paper entitled “Evaluation of an American Sign Language co-curricular training for pharmacy students” in Currents in Pharmacy Teaching & Learning.
  • Kyle Schmidt co-presented a poster entitled “Impact of Opioid Administration in the Intensive Care Unit and Subsequent Use on Opioid-Naive Patients” at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy annual meeting and was selected as a finalist in the Best Resident Poster category.
  • Felix Amissah presented a research seminar "Modulating oncogenic GTPase signaling in cancer using COX inhibitors and PUFAs," to the Michigan State University College of Medicine’s Pharmacology and Toxicology Department, and the Central Michigan University College of Medicine’s Mitochondria Research Group. 
  • Peggy Devoest presented "Pharmacy Students and Transitions of Care" to the Michigan Society of Health System Pharmacists.
  • Michelle Sahr received a $52,000 grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation for the project “Physician-Pharmacist Collaboration to Improve Cardiovascular Disease in Rural Communities.”
  • Eric Nybo had a patent issued from the US Patent and Trade Office entitled “Genetically modified host organism for expressing an anthracyclinone analogue, method associated therewith, and synthetic nucleic acids.”
  • Forty-one students and four coaches participated in the Associated Schools of Construction Region 3 Virtual Conference/Student Competition, with one of the two design-build teams coached by Mark Dyke, Chris Cosper and Joe Pacella winning first place, the Electrical competition team coached by Brian Bejcek winning first place and the Heavy-Civil competition team coached by Jen Miller winning third place.
  • Kaylee Moreno Burke graduated from the New Leadership Academy National Fellowship through the American Association of Hispanics in Higher and was selected by Delta Zeta National Sorority for their 35 Under 35 National Award.
  • Eight Ferris State University students were selected for the inaugural cohort of Building Bridges Through Education Fellowship through the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
  • Nick Kuiper’s TV pilot “Phojo” has advanced to the semifinals of the WeScreenplay TV Pilot contest.
  • Tracy Russo presented “Making Sense out of Senseless Crimes” and “Student Perceptions of Quality Teaching in Virtual Reality” at the Association for Educational Communications & Technology annual conference.
  • Kelley Senkowski virtually presented "Engaging Online Experiences for Lifelong Learners” at the National Association for Gifted Children.
  • Bob Daniels was appointed to a four-year term with the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee representing the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
  • Twenty-three security cameras were installed in residence hall entry and exit doorways.
  • Dining Services, through the nearly $4,000 in contributions from faculty and staff, provided Thanksgiving meals to students on campus.  
  • Auxiliary Enterprises, with support from many departments, is conducting COVID-19 testing clinics for athletics, students and faculty/staff who are asymptomatic and will be adding a shuttle stop at Wink Arena on testing dates to ensure those who want to be tested have transportation.
  • The Office of International Education is spearheading the “One Community; One Book” initiative using the book, “Haste to Rise.”
  • Students, faculty and staff are collaborating with Big Rapids city officials to discuss interactions and relations between local police and Ferris students.
  • The University hosted its second “Conversations That Matter” listening session with students on Zoom.
  • The Office of Multicultural Student Services hosted a panel discussion that probed the roots of structural racism that limit equality and social mobility for Blacks and other students of color in higher education.
  • David Pilgrim’s essay, “At the Jim Crow Museum, We Use Racist Objects to Engage Hearts and Heads in Social Justice,” was published in Folklife, a Smithsonian Institute publication.
  • Kendall College’s Wege Prize 2021 design competition has drawn the largest and most diverse field of competitors in its 8-year history with 35 student teams representing 88 different academic institutions from around the world, 27 different countries and 114 unique academic disciplines.
  • Powder Keg! A Revolutionary War Card Game developed by Kendall College students and faculty with students at the Grand Rapids Public Museum School; History Professors from Grand Valley State University, Calvin University, and Aquinas College; and developers from Open Systems Technologie, won a Gold Medal Award at the 2020 International Serious Play Awards.
  • Kevin Brennan served as a juror for the Best Image Awards, held in conjunction with the recent Eurographics Workshop on Visual Computing for Biology and Medicine.
  • Lori Faulkner presented on sustainable fashion to the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals.
  • Miranda Krajniak served as a juror in the inaugural Ale Prize—a city-wide competition in Grand Rapids that paired local artists with local breweries
  • Student Affairs is proud to offer the GPA Only merit awards for Fall 2021.
  • The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, Center for [email protected] Studies and Office of Admissions hosted a Bilingual Virtual Financial Aid Night for prospective students and families.
  • This year’s Ferris Foundation for Excellent Benefit was a virtual celebration and raised more than $100,000 for Foundation for Excellence student scholarships and faculty and staff merit grant awards.  
  • More than 70 students from RSOs across campus joined the Student Alumni Gold Club for the annual Rake n' Run, raking the lawns of local homes around campus.

Bandwidth Bowl

Last weekend Ferris State University hosted the “Michigan Bandwidth Bowl," a collegiate Esports tournament. This is an invitational tournament where schools from across the state compete in a round robin match schedule. 168 student-athletes from 15 participating schools on 35 teams competed for the win in Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Rainbow Six, Overwatch and Rocket League. The Ferris Esports Overwatch team won best in the state and placed fourth overall.

In addition to the competitors, students can work behind the scenes. They coordinate the production for livestreaming and perform shoutcasting, or the play by play and color commentary during the games. The Michigan Bandwidth Bowl can be viewed on, with videos of past competitions also available.

The popularity of Esports is growing, and the availability of it at Ferris has helped those involved continue to stay connected with fellow students virtually. Thank you to Esports coordinator Jonathon Eaton for providing this opportunity for our students.

United Way

Since early November, faculty and staff have donated nearly $35,000 toward the University’s annual United Way campaign. Many thanks to you, and to our emeriti, for contributing to and supporting our communities in this way. As the pandemic continues, many are still in great need, and your financial support is more important now than ever. When you give to the United Way, you are providing Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors, food for Project Starburst and Manna Pantries, support for the Mid-Michigan Community Action Agency, WISE, the Mecosta Youth Center, Hersey House of Hope and more.

If you have not yet made a donation and would like to do so, you can make a pledge via the “Voluntary Payroll Deduction” link in MyFSU. To do so click on the Employee tab. In the Employee Information section it is the final choice under Benefits & Deductions. If you have any questions about making your pledge please contact Terri Cook at x2504 or [email protected].

Holiday Wishes

This year there are many holiday traditions that cannot occur because of the impact of COVID-19. Like you I miss these opportunities to gather, to share good food and to celebrate the holidays. Likewise there are concerts, pageants and many other community gatherings that will need to wait for next year. With reports of the success and production of vaccines, it is possible to see that there is an end ahead for this pandemic. Every one of us looks forward to that time.

In the interim as you plan for the holidays and the new year, please be especially careful. We now know to be extra vigilant about groups, public gatherings, travel and in our meals with others, and understand the health risks these can create. Please continue to make good, prudent decisions which keep you, your families and our communities safe. We have learned much during this time and you have proven yourself agile and resilient in the face of unprecedented challenges. Thank you.

The University will close for the holidays at the end of the workday on Wednesday, Dec. 23, and will reopen on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. During this much-needed time of respite, it is my sincere hope you are able to rest and relax, and do things in which you find meaning, joy and happiness.

I look forward to working with you for a safe and healthy 2021.

David L. Eisler, president