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Political Engagement Award Established, Namesake Professor Richard W. Griffin Honored in Ceremony

Ferris State UniversityFerris State University’s Political Engagement Project, in collaboration with the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, are pleased to join with the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul Blake in announcing establishment of the Richard W. Griffin Political Engagement Award.

FCTL Director Todd Stanislav said full-time staff members, or those of tenured, tenure-track and non-tenured faculty status will be considered for the award, beginning in the 2017-18 academic year.

“The Political Engagement Project has been successful in responding to the continued call for institutions of higher education to help students become more engaged, informed and involved,” Stanislav said. “It seemed most appropriate to establish an award that acknowledges faculty or staff members who lead and embody that effort.”

A committee will review nominations, to determine the significance of the nominee’s contributions in student-centered, scholarly and university-wide activities intended to promote political engagement. Winners chosen by the committee will receive a plaque, a monetary award of $1,500 and recognition at the annual Academic Affairs awards ceremony.

A ceremonial presentation of this award was offered Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the University Center, as Griffin, a Political Science professor, received recognition from members of the Ferris and Big Rapids communities for his service to political engagement at the university. Stanislav said the developments and process had been kept a secret, and Griffin, who recently had stepped down as PEP co-coordinator, was invited as a guest.

“The project has been able to lead the university’s growth in political knowledge and involvement, and we were pleased to be able to bring Rick in, and thank him for his many efforts toward that goal,” Stanislav said. “He really has served as a role model for political engagement, and this was a very appropriate thing to do.”

Griffin had significant involvement in the establishment of the PEP, at Ferris, which was launched by the American Democracy Project, an initiative of the American Association of Colleges and Universities. He said various university leaders were quick to offer their assistance to advance political awareness and engagement.

“I have received tremendous administrative support,” Griffin said. “Bill Potter, a former associate provost, was very supportive in establishing these initiatives, as was President David Eisler. The PEP is now in good hands, with the support of the FCTL, and I hope these projects continue far into the future.”

Griffin also expressed his surprise, and thanks for the acknowledgement and event that was offered.

“I thought my presence was being sought as a former PEP co-coordinator, but people were coming up to offer their greetings and congratulations,” Griffin said. “Todd showed me the program for the evening, then told me of the honor. I am extremely grateful and happy to be honored by the university. I hope it continues long after I am gone.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Political Science professor Richard W. “Rick” Griffin displays an award offered for his contributions to political engagement at Ferris State University. Starting in the 2017-18 academic year, that award will bear his name. Griffin was involved in the formation of the Political Engagement Project and American Democracy Project on campus. Also pictured with Griffin at the Feb. 28 ceremony in the University Center was PEP co-coordinator and assistant professor Nicholas Leatherman.