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University's Now and Always Campaign Passes Goal, Reaches $117.2 Million

PhotoFerris State University President David Eisler is shown here at The Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit hosted on Friday, Oct. 29 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

GRAND RAPIDS – The 450 guests attending the 23rd Ferris Foundation Benefit Friday night (Oct. 29) at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Mich., were expecting an update on the progress of the University’s $115 million comprehensive campaign set to end in June 2022.

In a surprising turn of events, Ferris State University’s Now and Always Comprehensive Campaign Co-Chair Jeff Rowe announced that his former business partner, long-time friend and fellow Ferris Pharmacy alumnus Phil Hagerman had just made a $5 million planned gift to Ferris that would put the campaign over its $115 million goal seven months ahead of its official close. The campaign now sits at $117.2 million.

It was Phil’s family and the Hagerman Foundation, who in 2015, made a $5 million lead gift to Ferris that helped propel the university into its first-ever comprehensive campaign. 

“Phil’s ability to bookend this historic campaign with another transformational gift to the university has undoubtedly ushered in a new era of philanthropy at Ferris,” said Ferris President David Eisler. “I am thrilled and humbled by the tremendous generosity of Phil and all of our 22,000 campaign donors who have given generously to student scholarships, facilities, academic programs, athletics and so much more.” 

“This is a campaign about our people. It has succeeded in building a culture of engagement and philanthropy among our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, friends and volunteers. It has allowed everyone to think and dream big about making a difference in the lives of our students and university,” Eisler added. 

Campaign Cabinet co-chairs Rowe and Gary Granger said in a joint statement, “The Now and Always Comprehensive Campaign has been an ambitious undertaking, but it is a shining example of what we can accomplish together to set the stage for unparalleled success.” 

Even though the campaign goal has been met, Eisler said the campaign is not finished. Ongoing campaign efforts focus on three main areas – endowed student scholarships, program innovation and expansion, and partnerships. Ferris is further continuing to move forward with raising funds for several campaign priorities through the official close of the campaign June 30, 2022. These include:

  • $25 million for Phase II of Pharmacy Forward focusing on renovating and expanding laboratories; creating interprofessional clinical spaces; establishing a College of Pharmacy Innovation Fund for scholarship, research, development and discovery and expanding partnerships; and creating new annual and endowed scholarships for Pharmacy students;
  • $18.5 million for the Jim Crow Museum, Archive and Education Center that will improve the museum’s capacity to expand and properly store its collection of artifacts documenting the characterization of African Americans during the Jim Crow era. This will help make the museum’s resources available to the world through online digital access;
  • $7.375 million for the $32 million Center for Virtual Learning that will bring together Digital Media, Digital Animation and Game Design, Television and Digital Media Production, Software Engineering, Information Security and Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence. It also will be home to all virtual learning and teacher education programs and house cybersecurity and Esports competition arenas; and
  • $500,000 for the major renovation and expansion of the Ewigleben Sports Complex that includes a new arena for the volleyball program and a Center for Athletics Performance to improve strength and conditioning for nearly 400 student-athletes involved in 17 varsity programs.

Among the highlights of campaign initiatives completed to date are:

  • Hagerman Pharmacy building renovations to the college’s main teaching areas, including an interprofessional simulation suite, a 140-seat active learning classroom, the Rowe Pharmacy Care Clinic, and a 40-person patient interaction Lab;
  • Swan Annex expansion and renovation to support growth for the College of Engineering Technology’s Welding Engineering and Manufacturing programs; 
  • Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center indoor state-of-the-art training facility for PGA Golf Management program students and home to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame; and
  • Asphalt Pavement Association of Michigan training facility for road-building professionals and students.

Building partnerships throughout West Michigan also has been a campaign emphasis for Ferris.  Philanthropic support has enabled the university to expand its educational outreach in Grand Rapids through a partnership with Grand Rapids Public Schools to deliver programs and services at GRPS’ Southwest Community Campus Middle/High School in Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood.

The campaign also has created enhanced opportunities to serve the Latino and Asian communities of West Michigan, particularly through such college-readiness summer programs as Advancemos and Promesa for middle and high school students and Ferris’ Latino Business and Economic Development Center serving up-and-coming community and business leaders through LEADeres. 

Ferris Vice President for University Advancement and Marketing Shelly Pearcy said the campaign stands as the largest permanent investment in student affordability in the 137-year history of the university, with $22 million in scholarship endowments created through The Ferris Foundation’s Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge matching gift program. “This has been an extraordinary opportunity for donors, and there are still significant matching funds available.”

Pearcy said the campaign continues to rally unprecedented levels of support from alumni, faculty and staff, friends and other key stakeholders. Of the more than 22,000 total campaign donors to date, nearly 11,800 have been alumni, 9,800 friends and 900 faculty and staff. First-time donors total more than 10,600.

Ferris’ public announcement of the Now and Always Comprehensive Campaign was made in 2017, with an $80 million goal to be reached by June 30, 2019. After nearing the goal almost a year early in 2018, it was increased to $115 million and the timeframe extended through June 30, 2022.

Members of the Now and Always Comprehensive Campaign Cabinet are all from Michigan and include: Jeffrey Rowe, of Flushing; Gary Granger, of Byron Center; Paul Boyer, of Ada; Robert Carter, of Big Rapids; Doug Dommert, of Kalamazoo; Robert Friar, of Rochester; Phil Hagerman, of Linden; James Klett, of Lawrence; Stephanie Leonardos, of Ada; Marge Potter, of Grand Rapids; Vivian Pickard, of Bloomfield Hills; and Dick Shaw, of Grand Rapids.