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Board of Trustees Approves New Academic Majors, Four Honorary Doctorate Recipients and New Wayfinding Signage

PhotoThe Ferris State University Board of Trustees hosted its regular meeting on Friday, Feb. 18 on the Big Rapids campus. Shown here is an image of the FLITE building.

Ferris State University’s Board of Trustees approved new bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Professional Esports Production, new wayfinding signage for its Big Rapids campus, four honorary doctorates and citations of merit for three athletics teams, including the 2021 NCAA Division II National Champion Bulldog football team at its regular meeting on Friday, Feb. 18 at the University Center building.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Bobby Fleischman, leading an ongoing effort to adapt Ferris’ curriculum to current and future industry needs and student interest, spoke to the significance of the two new Bachelor of Science programs.

“The Professional Esports Production is an exciting, cross-disciplinary degree program, which we plan to deliver fully online. The esports market is emerging as a fast-growing industry with careers in the many related professions,” said Fleischman, who estimated as many as 20 students would enroll in the program during year one, beginning in Fall 2022, and 60 by year three. “This degree program fits nicely with the construction of the Center for Virtual Learning and provides Ferris with a competitive advantage over our Michigan counterparts, as well as an opportunity to offer this degree online to an expanded cohort of students regionally, nationally and beyond.”

The provost noted the Bachelor of Science in Economics could enroll up to 25 students in year one and upwards of 60 by year three.

“This provides Ferris with an opportunity to attract, retain and graduate students with a degree in Economics that prepares them with exceptional problem-solving and data-analysis skills that qualify them for a variety of jobs in the private and government sectors,” Fleischman said. “It will also prepare our graduates for graduate programs in business, law, and economics.”

Both bachelor’s programs plan to begin enrolling students in Fall 2022.

Board members approved honorary degrees to be awarded at the Spring 2022 commencement ceremonies. The degree recipients are Phil Hagerman, a 1975 College of Pharmacy alumnus; Dana King, a 1982 alumna with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing; Dick Shaw, a 1971 College of Engineering Technology alumnus; and Ian Stallings, a renowned designer, who will be honored at the Kendall College of Art and Design ceremonies.

Hagerman is a part of three generations of Hagermans that earned Ferris Pharmacy degrees. He co-founded Diplomat Pharmacy with his father and led this company for 27 years. During this time, Diplomat grew to be the largest independent provider of specialty pharmacy services in the country. He is a strong supporter of the university’s first-ever comprehensive capital campaign, Now and Always, providing a $5 million lead gift to the College of Pharmacy and a second $5 million gift to elevate Ferris past its $115 million comprehensive campaign fundraising goal.

As a broadcast journalist in Los Angeles, San Francisco and on national television, King garnered five Emmys, two Edward R. Murrow Awards and two Gracie Awards. She is now an award-winning classical figurative sculpturist who creates public monuments of black bodies in bronze. King is newly appointed to The Ferris Foundation Board of Directors, a cabinet member of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia Building Campaign and was named a Ferris Distinguished Alumna in 2018.

Shaw earned his associate and bachelor degrees in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. A proud veteran, he joined the Ferris faculty after graduation and served for 27 years, with recognition as the Ferris Distinguished Teacher in 1978 and service as HVACR program director beginning in 1985. Upon retirement, he became a national consultant for the HVACR industry, which was recognized by the American “Spirit of Independence Award.” In addition, he has established and been instrumental in developing numerous scholarship endowments at Ferris, has served on the Ferris Foundation, including chairing the Foundation Board, was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2018, and is of the “Now and Always” Campaign Cabinet.

Stallings is a designer with global residential and commercial projects and an accomplished artist, a differentiator in the design industry. Relocating from San Francisco to East Lansing during the pandemic, he reached out to Kendall College of Art and Design to explore collaboration opportunities. In December, he established the Ian Stallings Design Endowed Scholarship at KCAD.

Trustees also approved retaining preconstruction, construction and other related services to develop a new Early Learning Center (ELC) on the Big Rapids campus. The ELC, which will need a new facility following the planned demolition of Bishop Hall, supports students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community with quality educational experiences for young children. Further, the Early Learning Center provides a hands-on learning laboratory for academic students pursuing careers in Early Childhood Education.

Additionally, Trustees approved the future fabrication and installation of outdoor wayfinding branding and signage for the Big Rapids campus. Initial project priorities include replacing primary vehicular directional signs, overhauling the parking lot identification system, installing new and larger building identification signs at key visitor destinations and replacing the current street blade signs.

The Board of Trustees approved and awarded citations of merit in recognition of outstanding Fall 2021 seasons for the football, soccer and volleyball teams. The 14-0 Bulldog football team won the program’s first NCAA Division II National Championship on Saturday, Dec. 18, in McKinney, Texas. The women’s soccer team won the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship for the first time in program history, while the women’s volleyball won the GLIAC Tournament for the seventh time in eight seasons.

In other Feb. 18 action, the trustees approved: 

  • five sabbatical requests for the 2022-23 academic year as recommended by the administration;
  • 18 appointments to the boards of directors of FSU-authorized charter school academies, conditional authorization for a new charter school, Pittsfield Acres Academy, in Ypsilanti and an amended contract to add additional campus for the Lighthouse Academy in partnership with the Muskegon County Juvenile Transition center; and
  • A contract with EAB Enrollment Services for sophomore/junior student search.

The current 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 LaShanda R. Thomas, of Grosse Pointe; George K. Heartwell, of Newaygo; Kurt A. Hofman, of Grand Rapids; and Ronald E. Snead, of Stanwood.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees is Friday, May 6, 2022. Committee meetings begin at 10 a.m. followed by the full board meeting at 11 a.m.