Brent Knight, president of Lansing Community College and a Ferris State University graduate, will be honored by his alma mater with an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service during commencement ceremonies at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 5 in Big Rapids.
The Bay City, Mich. native graduated from Ferris in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, was a Mott Fellow while earning his doctorate from Western Michigan University and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan. He also was named one of 100 emerging leaders in American Higher Education by the American Council on Education in 1978.
“My education at Ferris was very broad and enriching, and exposed me to a multitude of subjects that helped me reach many goals as a college president,” Knight said. “It provided an excellent foundation for these challenges.”
“President” is a title that Knight has held for a while. In 1976 at the age of 29, he was named president of Triton College in River Grove, Ill., a large Chicago suburban community college. He also served as president of Pierce College in Tacoma, Wash., and Morton College, also in Illinois. He was vice president of development at Meijer, Inc. and in 2008 he became president of Lansing Community College, one of the largest community colleges in Michigan with an enrollment of more than 20,000.
Since joining LCC, Knight has focused his efforts on student success, offering programs relevant to the 21st century workforce, ensuring access to education and being a good steward of public resources. He has been a staunch advocate of low tuition and responsible student loan debt. His unique job-training program, Get a Skill, Get a Job or Your Money Back, was featured on CNN and in Time magazine.
“I would like to salute Dr. Brent Knight for this very prestigious recognition by Ferris State University,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president of the American Association of Community Colleges. “Dr. Knight has truly been a visionary since being named president of Triton College at 29 years of age, and he has established a legacy of outstanding leadership in American higher education.”
Among his many service efforts, Knight served as chairman of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Mich. during its inaugural year, helping to raise $20 million for its construction.
Knight has served as an advisor to members of Congress and mayors of Chicago. He also has been a guest lecturer across the nation and published numerous professional articles.
Knight lives in Lansing with his wife Risé, also an educator, and has two adult sons.
More than 1,300 of 1,700 Ferris students who are candidates for degrees will participate in spring commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5 in Big Rapids.
Graduates will be honored during five ceremonies: On May 4 at 3:30 p.m. for the College of Allied Health Sciences and at 7 p.m. for the colleges of Arts, Sciences and Education, Pharmacy and Professional and Technological Studies; and on May 5 at 9 a.m. for the Michigan College of Optometry and the College of Education and Human Services, 12:30 p.m. for the College of Engineering Technology and 4 p.m. for the College of Business.
Also receiving Honorary Doctorates will be Rick DeVos, a social entrepreneur from Grand Rapids, Mich. best known as the founder of ArtPrize; and JoLaine Draugalis, dean of the College of Pharmacy, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Ceremonies for the ticketed event will be held in the Convocation Center in the Ewigleben Sports Complex. Guests without tickets may watch the ceremony via a live stream on the Commencement website: ferris.edu/Commencement.
Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design will hold its commencement ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 5 at Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids. About 270 students will receive degrees.