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Alumnus Jeff Harrold to Receive Honorary Doctorate at Ferris Commencement Ceremony

Jeff HarroldCollege of Business graduates attending their commencement ceremony Saturday, May 7 will get a perspective on excellence and opportunity from a Ferris State University alumnus who has supported their college and the insurance industry as a whole.

Jeff Harrold is the chairman and CEO of Auto-Owners Insurance Company, based in Lansing, Mich. He will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry during the ceremony, beginning at 9 a.m. in Jim Wink Arena of the Ewigleben Sports Complex in Big Rapids. Harrold is a 1977 graduate of Ferris’ Insurance and Management program, and is currently on the College of Business Leadership Advisory Board. Harrold said that he was delighted and surprised to learn of his selection earlier this year.

“It shocked the life out of me when Ferris President David Eisler visited me in Lansing, to inform me of the honor,” Harrold said. “I was challenged as a young man to make risk management my career, which has opened many doors for me in the past 39 years. I’m grateful.”

Harrold has been with Auto-Owners since his graduation, and held a variety of leadership roles prior to his election as chairman, in 2011. Those duties included regional vice president of the insurer’s Lakeland, Fla. region, vice president of the Michigan region, senior vice president in life operations, which was followed by election to Auto-Owners’ board in 2003, selection as president in 2008, and being named CEO, in 2010. Harrold said in the weeks since learning of his selection for the honorary degree, he has been considering his message for Ferris’ Spring 2016 graduates.

“It’s a privilege to speak to these students, and I want to focus on what we all have been given, and how education is an opportunity for us,” Harrold said. “There are no rights given to them as graduates, so I want to challenge them to use their education to the fullest, without expecting anything in return. I want to point to the need to give back.”

Beyond service to the College of Business’ Advisory Board, Harrold is a Lansing Community Board member of Ele’s Place, a healing center for grieving children who have lost a loved one. He has also served Junior Achievement of Mid-Michigan and the Insurance Education Foundation, along with other professional organizations. The Griffith Foundation and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies honored Harrold with a Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2012, for his “commitment to the industry and education.”

Ferris Board of Trustees Chair Paul Boyer said at the time of Harrold’s selection that he, and fellow alumni and 2016 honorary doctorate recipients Vivian Rogers Pickard and Robert Hegbloom were “extraordinary role models for all students, especially our graduating seniors, who are beginning their careers.” More than 1,700 graduates will participate in one of eight commencement ceremonies on May 6 and 7 in Big Rapids, as approximately 2,400 Ferris students complete their degree programs in the Spring 2016 semester.

Read about other Spring 2016 honorary doctorate recipients:

News Click Vivian Pickard for more information.

News Click Robert Hegbloom for more information.

PHOTO CAPTION: Jeff Harrold, a 1977 graduate of Ferris State University’s Insurance and Management program will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry during the commencement ceremony for Spring 2016 graduates of the university’s College of Business. Harrold will address graduates of the college as part of the ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 7 in Big Rapids.