President's Message to Campus - Jan. 8, 2021

Wednesday’s events in Washington, D.C. are something most people would have considered unimaginable. In America we both expect and accept the transition of power from one presidential administration to another as a routine, ordinary occurrence. This week proved otherwise as we learned with disbelief of the misguided, shameful events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol building. The chaos, injuries and mayhem that ensued are difficult to fathom, and one struggles to find words strong enough to describe and denounce them. I, like you, am shocked and saddened by this disgraceful, abhorrent display that sought to reverse the electoral process which is at the core our nation’s democracy.

These events displayed, for all the world to see, the deep divides and challenges our country faces. Now is the time that we, both individually and collectively, should look for those values and beliefs that unite us rather than those that divide. It is my hope that as Americans we will find ways to work together, to bridge our differences and most importantly, respect one another. In this time of significant, unprecedented unrest, it is paramount we come together as a nation, address positively the challenges we face and build the type of society in which we all belong. In doing so, we can and will move our country forward.

Spring Semester

Complying with state regulations, spring semester classes will begin remotely on Monday, Jan. 11 until Tuesday, Jan. 19. Thank you for your flexibility and adaptability, for welcoming our students to Ferris, and for helping them continue on the path to earn their Ferris degree. Students will begin moving into campus housing next Friday, and I look forward to their arrival. Much hard work and preparation continues as we make the necessary adjustments needed to provide a safe living, learning and working environment. In this we continue to follow the COVID-19 guidance created last fall. Thank you for following these protocols established by the Re-entry Committee. In doing so we help keep each other safe and healthy.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” Those words were true back in 1957 when he spoke them to an audience in Montgomery, Ala., and they are just as true today. We recognize there is much work that needs to be done to further what Dr. King so fervently and passionately stood for – racial equality for his children and everyone in the world.

To remember Dr. King and honor his legacy, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will host the 27th Annual Faculty/Staff Virtual In-service via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to Noon. In this, faculty and staff are invited to create short videos focused on the themes of “I have a Dream for...” or “I can Make the World Better by...” These videos will be accompanied by live readings, music videos and other short videos. If you would like to submit a video to share, you can do so by recording it and sharing via e-mail to [email protected]. This is a wonderful opportunity to share with your colleagues how we all can make the world a better place.

At 5 p.m. everyone is invited to watch educator, social worker and public speaker Dr. Steve Perry present "Lessons We May Glean from MLK Jr. during the COVID-19 Pandemic" on Zoom. Because of COVID-19 concerns the annual MLK march will not occur this year. In its place, on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 11 a.m. via Zoom, you can watch clips of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., Dr. King’s 1967 speech “The Other America,” and participate in a facilitated discussion. Finally, our students will share their reflections and talents through speeches and songs on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 7 to 8 p.m. via Zoom. For these three virtual events hosted by the Office of Multicultural Services, please log in via Zoom (meeting ID: 3765117787 and password: omss).

Thank you to OMSS and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for providing these opportunities for our campus community to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King. Please participate and attend these virtual events.

Center for Virtual Learning Update

Two years ago, we received planning authorization for our next capital outlay project, the Center for Virtual Learning. In late December 2020 the legislature and Gov. Whitmer provided funding authorization for this much needed project. This is very exciting news for Ferris State University.

The Center of Virtual Learning will bring together the Schools of Digital Media and Education together with Information Security and Intelligence. It will create a physical location for the University’s online education efforts, while providing program development support and preparation for faculty engaged in this education. The Center will also house eSports and cyber competition centers. This is a $29.5 million project and will be sited next to the FLITE library on the current location of Vandercook Hall. As a part of this project the School of Criminal Justice will move to the Interdisciplinary Resource Center (IRC) and Bishop Hall, which has many deficiencies, will be demolished.

I want to express my thanks to everyone who has contributed to the development and design of this new facility, which I believe will be another signature building on our Big Rapids campus. It is my hope that the Center for Virtual Learning can be completed by January 2023.

20th Anniversary of Kendall College of Art and Design Merger

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the merger between Kendall College of Art and Design and Ferris State University. In the late 1990s, leaders at Kendall were searching for a partner who could provide the stability needed for its future. At the same time Ferris State University was looking to expand its footprint in Grand Rapids. Many people at Kendall, led by President Oliver Evans, and at Ferris, led by President Bill Sederburg, worked many, many hours to make this merger a possibility. The idea of combining the two institutions, offering a partnership of art, design and the educational programs at Ferris, was and is a synergy that optimized the strengths of both institutions.

The four-year process of affiliation began in 1996 and culminated in a complete merger in the spring of 2001. It is important to pause, look back and celebrate the vision, wisdom and dedicated efforts that moved this merger from just a possibility, to a success. We look forward to the success of this partnership with even greater prospects in preparing students for the future.

New Ferris Forward Podcast Episode

The latest Ferris Forward podcast episode features College of Engineering Technology Dean Michael Staley, who joined our University this past summer. In our conversation, Dean Staley shares what attracted him to Ferris State University, his unique career experiences and his thoughts for the future. You may tune in to this episode and the past 10 episodes of Ferris Forward at Buzzsprout, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. Please send comments or suggestions on future podcast topics to me at [email protected]. Thanks for listening.

COVID-19 Update

Each of us understands the pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our society, for our University and for each of us personally. There is a relentlessness presented by COVID-19, and it is important to remember to take care of ourselves, both mentally and physically. I am hopeful the holiday break provided time for you to rest, relax and recharge.

We continue to work closely with the District Health Department #10 and are collaborating to provide vaccine storage and distribution for this 10-county region. The Birkam Health Center has made application to become a vaccination site and will hopefully be approved to provide vaccinations on site for our campus community when they are available.   

In late December Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. This new legislation builds on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). It provides additional financial assistance to college and universities and our students. This will require review by the U.S. Department of Education before we will know what support the University will receive and when the funds will be dispersed. Included in this act are FAFSA and Pell Grant simplification, which should make financial aid access easier for our students. Most certainly this will be welcome assistance in this challenging time.

Finally, it is amazing to see the creativity, resilience and perseverance of our faculty, staff and students over the past 10 months. This can be and is a source of great pride. Please have a safe and healthy start to spring semester.

David L. Eisler, president