President's Message to Campus - Sept. 25, 2020

Conversations That Matter

As part of the University’s continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, the Diversity and Inclusion Office is hosting its first “Conversations That Matter” virtual listening session with students on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 1 to 2:15 p.m. This is an opportunity for our students to share their voices with a group of University leaders. Please encourage your students to register in advance for this Zoom event.  We look forward to beginning this important continuing dialogue with our students.

In addition, members of our University community participated in a Zoom meeting coordinated by student Byron Brooks and the City of Big Rapids. This engagement is part of the city’s continuing efforts to create social equity for our University community, Big Rapids residents, those involved in city government and public safety. Thank you to Byron, Big Rapids Mayor Tom Hogenson, and everyone participating in this initiative.

Both of these efforts are a part of our University’s continuing Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. If you have not reviewed this document online I encourage you to do so. If you would like to add your name to the growing list of supporters on this webpage, please send your name to [email protected].


We are unable to hold many of the traditional Homecoming events because of COVID-19, but there are still many activities occurring throughout next week to celebrate this annual tradition. From a virtual 5K and Ferris at Home photo challenge to a tailgate recipe contest and virtual comedy show/live Q&A with comedian John Mulaney, the Homecoming Committee has done an outstanding job of providing safe, virtual events this year to bring our students, alumni and Big Rapids community together. I encourage you to review the list of HOMEcoming events online and attend what your schedule allows.

Fall Commencement

With continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, it is clear we are not in a position to safely host in-person December commencement ceremonies. While this is disappointing, the health and safety of our students, their families and our University community are most important. In doing this we continue to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and State of Michigan recommendations to mitigate risk and stop the spread of COVID-19.  

The University’s Commencement team is coordinating arrangements to virtually recognize our Fall 2020 graduates at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19, much like the ceremonies we hosted in May for our Spring 2020 graduates. They are developing a webpage that will feature an online Commencement program and information on how to connect with the virtual commencement experience. More details about the virtual ceremony and other related events will be forthcoming. Thank you to the Commencement team for all of their work in planning a special recognition for our graduates.

When we can host in-person ceremonies, every graduate during this pandemic period is invited to join us at a future commencement. We all look forward to when we are again able to recognize our graduates at what is a great Ferris tradition.

Now & Always Campaign Celebration

A virtual celebration was held Wednesday evening to recognize a significant milestone achieved in the University’s first-ever comprehensive campaign, Now & Always. Through the generosity of our faculty and staff, alumni, friends and other donors, we have exceeded the $100 million mark in this campaign and are well on our way to reaching our goal of $115 million to support our students, campus and programs.

In this virtual event I shared several campaign highlights, including –

  • $100,190,851 has been raised by 20,936 donors, including gifts from 827 faculty and staff
  • 850 gifts over $10,000 were made to the campaign since its inception
  • $10 million in scholarship donations have been matched by the Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge, creating $20 million in scholarship endowments
  • Nearly $30 million has been received for campaign projects, such as the Swan Annex expansion and renovation, the Center for Athletics Performance and the Jim Crow Museum         

Ferris Foundation Board Chair Kurt Hofman and Campaign Cabinet Co-chair Jeff Rowe shared remarks during this event. Together with members of our Campaign Cabinet, The Ferris Foundation Board and many others, they have worked tirelessly on behalf of the University to ensure the campaign’s success. This is a tremendous achievement, one which we all should celebrate. When you have a moment, I encourage you to watch this three-minute video shared during the event. It wonderfully captures our successes to date.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this campaign, helping support our students and moving Ferris Forward.     

David L. Eisler, president