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

Re-entry Committee Town Hall

Yesterday the FSU Re-entry Committee hosted its third set of well-attended Town Hall meetings. Re-entry Committee members shared workgroup updates, introduced information on COVID-19 testing and surveillance monitoring plans, and outlined current priorities for the remainder of the semester. While the number of positive cases at Ferris has increased, in comparison to peer institutions we are currently doing well. This is a result of you and your efforts to be safe and to help others be safe in this environment. I appreciate you taking care to wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing and to avoid large gatherings. These healthy habits build on many efforts developed to de-densify and sanitize the campus, to expand testing, and to help keep people healthy and safe. Thank you for helping support our students and emphasizing with them the importance of their actions and decisions.

I appreciate Jeanine Ward-Roof, the Re-entry Committee members and the many people who served on workgroups helping our University prepare, plan and execute a safe start to the fall semester. If you did not have the opportunity to attend the Town Hall, a recording of the Zoom presentation will be posted online soon, and you can download the PowerPoint presentation. Thank you to everyone who helped us have a coordinated, safe and healthy start to the academic year.

CARES Act Funding Available for Students

Last May we accepted Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds distributed through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A significant portion of these funds are earmarked for our students to help them address financial challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have now entered Phase 2 of our allocation process, and grant funding is available for eligible students experiencing financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These can include expenses such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare and childcare. Grant awards of up to $400 will be given to students with a demonstrated financial need. Students who are Title IV eligible can request funding through the web-based application process. If you know of students who have financial needs as a result of COVID-19, please encourage them to request a CARES Act grant. These funds are not a loan, do not need to be repaid and can make an important difference for them.

More information about CARES Act grants for students, including the application link and a list of FAQs is available online. Please encourage your students to apply. You can read the e-mail informing students about Phase 2 CARES Act grants online. 

Good News

Each month we collect and share honors and accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff. Throughout this pandemic there is much good, significant work being done. Thank you for taking time to share your accomplishments. I very much enjoy reading and learning about your success. Below is a small sampling of this month’s Good News. When you have the opportunity, I encourage you to review the entire Good News and congratulate your colleagues on their achievements.

  • Dan Ding’s article, “A Study of the Websites of the 42 Double First-class Chinese Universities: How Does Confucianism Influence the Content on Chinese University Websites?” was published in the May 2020 issue of Technical Communication.
  • Melissa Smith’s book chapter “Theorized Storytelling: A Tool for Practicing Reader-Response Criticism,” was published in the MLA’s Teaching Young Adult Literature. 
  • Garrett Stack’s poetry collection “Yeoman's Work” was published by Bottom Dog Press in August.
  • Deirdre Fagan published a nonfiction essay, “Heavy Lifting,” in The Coil and the poem, “We Real Cops,” in New Verse News.
  • Rick Amidon self-published the second edition of his textbook, Propose to Me.
  • Carrie Weis had her painting selected as the cover for an art and literature anthology entitled “As the World Burns,” published by Indie Blu(e) Publishing. 
  • Michelle Sahr will serve as one of five Faculty Scholars chosen by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation.
  • David Bright was elected a 2020 Fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.
  • Lisa Salvati, Lisa Meny, Margaret de Voest, David Bright, Kari Vavra-Janes, Mark  Young, Shelby Kelsh, Michelle Sahr and Greg Wellman published “Assessing the Validity and Reliability of the Pharmacist Interprofessional Competencies Tool” and Michelle Sahr, Shelby Kelsh, Anne Ottney, Mark Young, Rodney Larson and Minji Sohn published “Pharmacy Students’ Perceptions of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems as Compared to Those of Other Health Care Students” in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education
  • IT and Auxiliary Enterprises implemented a safe space solution to count and track the number of people in The Rock, Quad Café and the Bookstore to ensure compliance with new capacity limits.
  • Kendall Digital Art and Design program students, voice artists, musicians, faculty and animators released a podcast, Insight Into Neurodiversity, that tackles complex questions around societal perceptions of people who think and learn differently.
  • Kendall College placed 3rd in the Diversion category of the national RecycleMania 2020 competition, which included 142 other colleges/universities from around the U.S.
  • The Wege Prize awarded 2nd place and $10,000 to Further Food, a team of students from West Michigan including Kendall graduates Christian Czernik and Kelsey Cunningham, who developed a system to turn unused food from campus dining services into packaged meals for students with leftover waste diverted to an on-campus composting facility.
  • Michael McCulloch published the article "Workers’ Housing and Houses: Interwar Planning from Dessau to Detroit" in the Journal of Planning History.
  • Donna St. John’s piece "How Strange, These Mantras Will Become Our Memory" was featured in the group exhibition Don't Touch Your Face at ShockBoxx Gallery in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
  • Michael Nashef ('06) collaborated with Phil Renato to create personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers during COVID-19. Nashef manufactured headbands while Renato laser cut polyester face shields to match.
  • A new mural is completed on the retaining wall of the Ottawa ramp from 196 near Michigan Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids as part of UICA’s Exit Space Project. View the murals online at
  • The University’s Anti-Violence Alliance partnered with the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence and received a grant to expand its capacity to deliver prevention education.
  • The Center for Leadership, Activities and Career Services received a $10,000 Michigan Campus Access Network grant to fund a Peer Success and Involvement Coach initiative to assist FTIAC students
  • Admissions hosted more than 120 admitted and prospective students for one-on-one visits campus visits in July and August. Survey results indicate the new visit format (golf cart tours) was well received.
  • The News Services and Social Media Team promoted Housing and Residence Life’s move-in days garnering significant local and regional coverage from media outlets such as the Big Rapids Pioneer, 9&10 News, Up North Live, and WZZM 13.
  • On August 10 the University launched the new design for the homepage.
  • The top-performing Facebook post for the University’s main account was the “Best Value” feature story reaching more than 28K people.
  • The top-performing Facebook video from the University’s main account was its “Ferris State University is Ready” anthem video, with an estimated reach of 29K people.

Strategic Planning and Resource Council

The Strategic Planning and Resource Council (SPARC) will host its first meeting of the semester on Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 3 to 5 p.m. This group typically meets on the second Tuesday of the month to consider and discuss topics of strategic importance to the University. SPARC brings together diverse perspectives from stakeholders across the University. This month’s meeting will be held on Zoom and facilitated by SPARC Chair Spence Tower.

The meeting agenda includes three topics. David Pilgrim and Spence Tower will lead a discussion on Ferris Forward, the University’s strategic plan. The focus will be on changes in the plan’s assumptions during this global pandemic and adjustments to strategic initiatives as a result. Jeanine Ward-Roof will provide a report on our COVID-19 efforts, and I will update SPARC on fall enrollments, the University budget, and our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to participate in SPARC. You need not be a member to join this virtual meeting and engage in these discussions. If you would like to attend please e-mail Terri Cook for the Zoom login information.

David L. Eisler, president