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Trustees Approve The Towsley Foundation Naming Rights, Housing and Dining Budget

Ferris Welding LabWelding Professor Jeff Hardesty works with a student in the newly-renovated Swan Annex building at Ferris State University.

Ferris State University’s Board of Trustees approved the naming of “The Towsley Foundation Material Science Lab” in the newly-renovated and expanded Swan Annex building, on main campus, among a series of items at its regular meeting on Friday, May 10 in Big Rapids.

Established in 1959 by Margaret Dow Towsley, with a gift of The Dow Chemical Company’s common stock, The Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation, since 1960, has provided more than $91 million to primarily charitable organizations throughout Michigan. The Foundation continues the Towsley legacy of strengthening communities and improving lives through philanthropic support of those who offer creative and sustainable approaches to challenges in an ever-changing world. In recognition of its $150,000 gift, Ferris has renamed Room 129, the Material Science Lab, in honor of The Towsley Foundation.

“We are very appreciative of The Towsley Foundation’s generosity and are pleased to honor the legacy of the Foundation and its founders by naming a lab in the Swan Annex for them,” said Shelly Pearcy, vice president for University Advancement and Marketing.

The board approved authorization for the next phase in the planning for the main campus Center for Virtual Learning. In December 2018, the state legislature passed and then-Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law planning authorization for the project – an initial step in Michigan’s Capital Outlay approval process. The approval paves the way for project planning, the preliminary design phase for the projected $29.5 million project, which still requires state approval before construction would begin.

The proposed Center for Virtual Learning project includes a renovation of and an addition to Vandercook Hall, on the Big Rapids campus, to house the School of Digital Media, Information Security and Intelligence, online education, Career and Technical Education, and Teacher Education. This will create a physical location to bring together the University’s online education efforts while providing program development support and preparation for faculty engaged in virtual education. The project’s scope further includes the razing of Bishop Hall, currently the home to several of the programs that would be moved to the new building.

Trustees approved an additional $300,000 for the renovation of the Hagerman Pharmacy Building in Big Rapids. The increase will address additional asbestos abatement – bringing the total Phase 1 project cost to $5.619 million.

In other action, the trustees approved:

  • the 2019-20 preliminary housing and dining services operating budget at a 1.5-percent increase from $32.4 million to $32.9;
  • eleven appointments and reappointments to the boards of directors of FSU-authorized charter school academies; and
  • discontinuation of the Lighthouse Academy-Round Lake location in East Jordan effective June 30, 2019, at the end of the academic year.

The trustees are chair Amna P. Seibold, of East Grand Rapids; vice chair Ana L. Ramirez-Saenz, of Grand Rapids; secretary Rupesh K. Srivastava, of Wixom; member-at-large Lori A. Gwizdala, of Bay City; Robert J. Hegbloom, of Clarkston; Kurt A. Hofman, of Grand Rapids; Kari L. Sederburg, of East Lansing; and LaShanda R. Thomas, of Grosse Pointe.

The next regular meeting of the Board is Friday, Oct. 4 in Grand Rapids. Committee meetings begin at 10 a.m. followed by the 11 a.m. full board meeting.

PHOTO CAPTION: Shown here is a scene from main campus. The Ferris State University Board of Trustees approved a list of items at its regular meeting on Friday, May 10 at the University Center in Big Rapids.