(Above) Shown are images from the collection of the late George F. Riley. The assembly of wildlife artifacts was among items donated to Ferris State University. Items from the collection will be displayed in the renamed Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center on Ferris’ Big Rapids campus. (Below) Ferris President David Eisler is shown at an event that showcased the collection at the Riley home.
Ferris State University was a “perfect match” for The Riley Collection, an assembly of wildlife artifacts and a Detroit-area property valued at more than $1 million, said Leonard A. Kruszewski, executor of the George F. Riley Estate.
At its December 2019 meeting, Ferris’ Board of Trustees approved the renaming of the Card Wildlife Education Center as the “Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center.” The renamed Big Rapids-campus facility will serve as the new permanent home for The Riley Collection, which includes animal mounts, trophies, artifacts and artwork assembled by the late George F. Riley, who passed away in January 2018.
Kruszewski spoke glowingly of his interactions with the Ferris team that championed the university’s proposal to the Riley estate. He cited engagement with Kristi Haik, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences and Education; Bob Murray, associate vice president for advancement and executive director of The Ferris Foundation; and Carrie Weis, director of The Fine Art Gallery and the Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center.
“All of the proposals we received met the wishes of the donor in different ways. But, Ferris State University stood out due to the passion of the people behind the proposal,” Kruszewski said. “It was clear this was something Ferris State would treasure. They already have a wildlife museum founded by the George F. Riley of West Michigan, Roger Card. Both are lifelong, avid Safari Club International members. It seemed a perfect match.”
In October 2019, Ferris received a gift from the estate of real property, located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, valued at $1.1 million. The Farmington Hills property will be sold, and the sale’s proceeds will help fund the enhancement and expansion of the future Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center.
“This is a great opportunity for us to grow our engagement with communities about wildlife conservation and education,” said Kristi Haik, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences and Education. “We are honored to have received this gift from Mr. Riley.”
Kruszewski added, “Ferris has been great in including the Riley family and friends in the transformation of their loved one’s gift and passion to their institution and made them feel this was the right choice as well. Ferris has committed to keeping this connection alive with the family and friends as the museum evolves into the new Card/Riley Wildlife Education Center.”
Ferris has committed to share items from The Riley Collection around the state.
“That is the other aspect that made Ferris a perfect choice,” said Kruszewski, who will sit on the Card/Riley Wildlife Education Center’s Advisory Committee to offer his expertise and to help make the center a Michigan destination. “Ferris has demonstrated a commitment to share their educational knowledge in wildlife education along with pieces of George’s donation with institutions from the east side of the state, first, and other Michigan institutions.”