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President’s Founders’ Day Address Considers Nurturing Opportunity, Robinson Quad Bustles on Beautiful Afternoon

President Pink's speech

Ferris State University President Bill Pink offered his first Founders Day address Thursday, Sept. 1, in the David L. Eisler Center ballroom. It coincided with the 138th anniversary of the Big Rapids Industrial School’s founding by Woodbridge N. and Helen Gillespie Ferris. (Photo by Sandy Gholston)

The 138th anniversary of Ferris State University’s founding was afforded splendid late summer weather Thursday, Sept. 1. Faculty and staff joined Big Rapids community members in a celebration on the Big Rapids campus on the Robinson Quad and inside the David L. Eisler Center.

President Bill Pink offered reflections on his first eight weeks as the 19th leader of the university, ranging from contact with students and parents coming to campus to the near-term opportunities for Ferris to consider its place as an educational destination for Michigan students and beyond.

“I got the chance to drive a cart during move-in days, where I could meet students, ask what they are doing here, and what they want to do in their lives,” Pink said. “Their stories about their intentions and hopeful destinations have been so fun.”

Pink also indicated he would have a proposal ready in October that would go to the campus community, identifying intentions for shaping a vision for Ferris in an ever-changing role for the institution.

“The main word I have is ‘potential,’” Pink said. “I will offer a document based on my observations and beliefs, knowing there is much we will do together as a university so we can shape opportunities for students in this state and elsewhere. Then, we will determine what that looks like, together.”

Pink addressed an audience inside the David L. Eisler Center and those who watched via a live YouTube stream.
Faculty, staff and students enjoyed a picnic meal on the Robinson Quad, where a midafternoon assembly of Legacy and Crimson registered student organizations, campus departments and local nonprofit groups fanned out along the walkways. Cran-Hill Ranch supporters offered a ‘safe archery’ interactive display, which Advancement Director Chris Vallette, who attended Ferris in the 2010s said served its purpose well on a brilliant, sunny day.

“One reason for us to be here is to bring a bit of fun to a community that gives so much of itself to us and our success,” Vallette said. “We want students and area residents to know there are volunteer opportunities and employment possibilities at Cran-Hill. Also, this is a great way to let those who may not be familiar with us learn about our summer camp schedule and prospects for retreats and other gatherings.”

As part of the traditional ice cream social, lines moved briskly to present sweet success as campus and area dignitaries scooped Jones Ice Cream for attendees throughout the event. Big Rapids Parks and Recreation Director Josh Pyles, a 2011 Ferris College of Education and Human Services graduate, served chocolate ice cream to appreciative visitors.

“This is the first time I volunteered as a server,” Pyles said. “I am very glad to meet people and help here while we all get ready for a Ferris football game.”

Thousands turned out at Top Taggart Field to see the Ferris State Bulldogs begin their defense of the NCAA Division II championship with a 36-20 win over the Central Washington Wildcats.