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Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit 2019 Highlights Alumni, `Now and Always' Successes

Robert HegbloomFerris State University Trustee Robert Hegbloom, a 1986 graduate of the university's Automotive Management program, was the keynote speaker at The Ferris Foundation's 21st Annual Benefit for Excellence Friday, Nov. 1 at DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids. Hegbloom discussed his role in the branding of Ram Truck and the corporation's sales gains in the global market.

video cameraCheck out the highlight video from the 2019 edition of The Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit.

More than 550 supporters of Ferris State University’s mission, including donors, corporate partners, faculty, staff and students, reveled in recounted successes and reflections at the DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids Friday, Nov. 1, during The Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit 2019.

Ferris President David Eisler welcomed 20 Opportunity Scholarship recipients to the stage. He acknowledged the seven Exceptional Merit Grant awards made to faculty and staff to foster learning and collaborative efforts in the last year. An update on the “Now and Always” comprehensive campaign indicated that $92 million, or 80 percent of the $115 million goal, has been pledged for scholarships, facility upgrades and improvements for university programs. Eisler highlighted Chandler Blatt, a native of Brown City and a 2018 graduate of the Construction Technology and Management program. Blatt exercised his opportunity to gather support from the Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge and a match from his employer, Barton Malow, a leading general contracting firm, in establishing the Building Bulldogs Scholarship Endowment.

“The scholarship support I received when I came to Ferris made all the difference in my ability to pursue my bachelor’s degree,” Blatt said. “I loved everything about Ferris in my time as a student, including extracurricular activities. In my situation with Barton Malow, being able to maximize the opportunity to help students in the CTMG program is important and gratifying to me.”

The keynote speaker for the evening was Ferris Honorary Doctorate recipient Robert Hegbloom, a 1986 graduate of the Automotive Management program, and a member of the Ferris Board of Trustees. During his presentation on the Ram Brand of Fiat Chrysler, where Hegbloom serves as president and CEO, he offered thoughts on his business philosophy and vision for success.

“We can all learn from our experiences,” Hegbloom said. “I have enjoyed 33 years with Chrysler, now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is soon to merge with PSA, the makers of Peugeot and Citroen vehicles. In my first role with the corporation, I handled customer complaints while making sure the executive’s cars were full of gas and washed clean. The lessons I learned when I was young are what stick with me to this day. It is important to develop a good foundation. Then, we must be ready to give back and help others develop theirs.”

After The Ferris Foundation Benefit For Excellence, Hegbloom received the College of Engineering Technology’s Outstanding Alumnus Award, with an emeritus professor, current Automotive students and interim CTE Dean Richard Goosen joining Eisler for the presentation.