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Ferris State University Celebrates Nearly 1,600 Graduates as Commencement Wraps Up the 2022-23 Academic Year

Commencement Spring 2023

Ferris State University President Bill Pink poses for a photo with a graduate during commencement ceremonies over the weekend in Big Rapids.

Energy and emotion levels were running high as Ferris State University concluded its 2022-23 academic year celebrating 1,500-plus graduates during five ceremonies on Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6, at Jim Wink Arena in Big Rapids.

Ferris opened commencement activities with an afternoon ceremony on Friday, May 5, for Michigan College of Optometry and College of Health Professions graduates before evening festivities for the College of Pharmacy and Doctorate in Community College Leadership. Saturday, commencement finished with sessions for the College of Engineering Technology, in the morning; College of Business, in the early afternoon; and College of Arts, Sciences and Education later.

President Bill Pink, drawing from his college basketball playing career when he often competed as an undersized post player, encouraged graduates to think “big” and play “big” as many will leave Ferris and begin their professional careers.

“The speaker and writer Marianne Williamson said it best when she said, ‘Your playing small does not serve the world,’” said Pink, leading his first spring commencement, to the 1,400-plus students taking part in the weekend ceremonies. “If you play small, that doesn’t help us out. It doesn’t help a world that needs Ferris State grads to come in, make a difference, and, in effect, change the world. Your playing small does not help this world. You play big. You go out and make a difference in lives.”

Pink further urged Class of 2023 graduates to focus on what’s next in their lives while remembering Ferris will remain a home-away-from home.

“As the very founder of this great university, Woodbridge Ferris, and his wife, Helen, the way that they mapped out the university on the path to what we are today, over 135 years later,” Pink said. “Their whole goal, in providing education for everyone, the focus was simple: make the world a better place. That’s what Ferris State graduates do, and you do it because you play big. Don’t ever forget that. You come back and see us. You come back because you’re always a Bulldog. Bless you, and where you go from here.”

Graduates received their official welcome to the Ferris Alumni Association from Emily Coles, an alumna and president of the organization.

“It is my great honor to congratulate all of you for the first time as alumni of Ferris State University,” Coles said. “It’s been 15 years since I was sitting where you’re at today, and although it sounds like a cliché, it really does feel like it was just yesterday. I know you will face many new possibilities, opportunities and, yes, challenges. But you’re ready because you are a Bulldog. You are and always will be a Bulldog. That means we are depending on you to represent Ferris State University with pride, to use the knowledge and skillset you have acquired here to really make the world a better place.”

Beyond Big Rapids, Kendall College of Art and Design hosted its commencement ceremony on Saturday morning, May 6, at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center. KCAD celebrated graduates from December 2022, Spring 2023 and Summer 2023.