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Board of Trustees Take Action on New Museum School in Grand Rapids

Ferris State UniversityGRAND RAPIDS – At its Friday, Oct. 10 regular board meeting held in Grand Rapids at the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building, the Ferris State University Board of Trustees approved a memorandum of understanding to help establish a downtown school for grades 6 through 12. The school will be a partnership between Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design, the Grand Rapids Public Schools, the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Valley State University. The school will initially be located at the Van Andel Museum Center on the west side of the Grand River.

KCAD partnered in creating the school because of the college’s belief that design thinking can be an important alternative to traditional pedagogies. Cindy Todd, KCAD’s art education program chair, emphasizes the new paradigm the focus on design creates.

“The design-based component creates a dynamic curriculum that is highly engaging for today’s student. Using a holistic approach and allowing the students direct access to the museum archives will help them make essential connections to the learning and will increase their information retention long-term,” she said.

To that end, the university will assist in the leadership and development of the school curriculum. This collaborative effort will provide exciting opportunities for KCAD faculty and student involvement in the school.

“KCAD is delighted be able to contribute expertise in experiential education and design thinking to the diverse collaboration that’s resulted in this remarkable school for our community. The unique curriculum of the Grand Rapids Public Museum School will help students build the collaborative and creative problem-solving skills essential to both personal growth and professional success,” said Oliver Evans, interim KCAD president.

Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal praised the inclusive spirt of the endeavor.

“I am so grateful for the remarkable support GRPS and the proposed Museum School have received from the leadership and faculty at Kendall College of Arts and Design of Ferris State University,” said Weatherall Neal. “KCAD/Ferris has been absolutely instrumental from day one in planning and developing this cutting edge new school choice that is rooted in design thinking and place-based education. The action taken by the Ferris State University Board of Trustees is yet one more major step toward making the Museum School a reality with doors set to open in Fall 2015.”

In other action, the Board of Trustees approved a recommended 2014-15 operating budget of $241.8 million, which includes a projected $50.2 million from the state. This budget takes into account recent state appropriations decisions that include one-time funding to offset this year’s Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System payment increases.

Additionally, the trustees approved an updated and final housing and dining services budget of $34.2 million to combine with a final $207.6 million general fund budget figure.

The board approved room and board rates for the 2015-16 academic year. These figures reflect increased food costs, and a rebalancing of room rates to reflect market pressures. Individual room and board rates vary based on the type of room and meal plan selected. The overall effect is estimated to be a 2.9-percent increase over 2014-15.

According to Jerry Scoby, vice president for Administration and Finance, the major factors contributing to the 2.9-percent increase include the impact of the minimum wage increases including the 10-percent increase that went into effect for student employees in August, food-cost increases running around 6 percent, some new operating costs with providing new food venues for students in the new University Center, compensation for our employees, and positioning to build some new beds on campus for our students over the next year or two.

In response to the state of Michigan’s invitation to submit capital project requests for consideration in the fiscal year 2015-16 budget cycle, the trustees approved the submission of one capital outlay request in addition to a five-year capital planning document. The university’s highest priority is a proposal for a $40 million Virtual Learning Center facility to house Centers for Digital Forensics, Teacher Education, Career and Technical Education, and Digital Media.

Other agenda items board approved include:

  • “Diversity at Ferris” an annual report presented by David Pilgrim, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion. Highlights of the report include enrollment increases for Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, International and students who identify as more than one race. The report also includes efforts being made to strengthen diversity among faculty and staff, strengthening dialogue at the University on issues related to diversity, and various efforts designed to make Ferris a more diverse and inclusive university. The report also acknowledges the upcoming diversity audit that was approved by the trustees in July 2013. A link to the full report can be found, here;
  • designation of the atrium in the new University Center the “Donald F. Rankin Atrium.” This part of a $34 million University Center renovation project that is expected to be completed in December 2014. The atrium, and the former Rankin Student Center, were named in honor of former dean Donald F. Rankin, who had a long career in student services at Ferris, including being Dean of Men (1945-1962), Dean of Students (1953-1968) and Dean of Student Services (1969-1972);
  • acceptance of Shimadzu Equipment Grant for Teaching and Research in the amount of $500,000. Monies will be used to establish a core research facility that will be named, “The Shimadzu Core Laboratory for Academic and Research Excellence at Ferris State University.” This grant, from the global instrument company that provides state-of-the-art products for use in the scientific and medical communities, will provide access to instruments, technologies and services that foster interdisciplinary collaboration between colleagues of different colleges;
  • five-year studio space leases at 89 Ionia in Grand Rapids for Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, funded by the KCAD general operating budget;
  • designation of the loft room on the fifth floor at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, in Grand Rapids, as “The Loft-Presented by Herman Miller.” Herman Miller has donated furniture to finish the fifth floor at 2 Fulton West; and
  • an amended and restated understanding between the university and The Ferris Foundation.

The trustees are chair Gary L. Granger, of Byron Center; vice chair Sueann L. Walz, of Big Rapids; secretary Dr. D. William Lakin, of Clinton Twp.; Alisha M. Baker, of Mount Clemens; Paul E. Boyer, of Ada; Erin R. Brown, of East Lansing; Lori A. Gwizdala, of Bay City; and Arthur L. Tebo, of Walloon Lake.

The next regular meeting of the trustees is Friday, Dec. 12 in Big Rapids. Committee meetings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. followed by the biennial and full board meeting at 11 a.m.


Pictured at the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building in Grand Rapids, Mich. are Ferris State University President David Eiser, Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal Grand Rapids Public Museum CEO and President Dale Robertson and Kendall College of Art and Design President Oliver Evans. The group assembled as part of a new collaborative partnership to help establish a downtown school for grades 6 through 12. The school will be a partnership between Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design, the Grand Rapids Public Schools, the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Valley State University. The school will initially be located at the Van Andel Museum Center on the west side of the Grand River. (Photo credit: Matt D Gubancsik)