220 Ferris Drive
Big Rapids, MI 49307
Celebrating 50 years of friendship and Pharmacy, the Class of 1967 established the “Class of 1967 College of Pharmacy Endowed Scholarship Fund”. This Fund will be awarded annually to a deserving Ferris pharmacy student, as the $8,000 scholarship is intended to help assure the success of Pharmacy students with financial needs.
“With this Endowed Class Scholarship Fund, we have created a great class legacy and, as the saying goes... found a way to pay it forward,” said Bob Byrnes, who served as one of the core facilitators of the class reunion.
Byrnes joined his wife, Andrea, for her Ferris 50th year anniversary in 2016 and was disappointed by the number of Pharmacy alumni there. Motivated by that response, Byrnes consulted with Pharmacy Dean Stephen Durst and other in his Class Reunion Committee, Tom Cook, Ken Kirk and Hazel Seaba. They discussed ways to encourage their pharmacy classmates to attend the upcoming 50th Anniversary Reunion. The committee decided to celebrate that anniversary by creating memorable class events during Homecoming weekend, and to also establish a class gift.
On Friday, Sept. 29, the Pharmacy Class of 1967 returned to Ferris to accept their Golden Eagle Award and participate in the Homecoming festivities. The group reconnected over several meals, cheered on classmate Tom Cook in the Homecoming parade, who was honored with his wife Janice as Grand Marshals, and enjoyed many laughs sharing Ferris memories.
“This year was special, as I have marched in about 14 Homecoming parades, but to be selected as the Grand Marshal and wave to people who I knew on the sidelines, was neat,” Tom Cook said. Cook served on the university’s Board of Trustees for 16 years and acted as Chairman for four years. Leading the parade with the support of the Pharmacy Class of 1967 made for an unforgettable weekend.
26 alumni from the Class of 1967 attended the 50th Anniversary Reunion and participated in the Pharmacy program’s special events. Their non-stop smiles and laughs was a sure-tell sign that they truly enjoyed, reconnecting and reflecting on their time at Ferris. Over half of the living class members participated in the class gift by donating to the Endowed Class Scholarship Fund. Originally, the 50th Class Reunion Committee had a $25,000 fundraising goal, but their collaborative efforts totaled $101,000, and with the Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge, the gift was doubled, creating a $202,000 endowment, which is truly a legacy that will last forever.
“Hopefully, other Pharmacy classes will decide to create similar class scholarships,” Byrnes explained. “If that were to happen, it would be a big win for the College of Pharmacy and for future Pharmacy students.”
College of Pharmacy Dean Stephen Durst said the Class of 1967’s gift will be an inspiration for other Pharmacy alumni, and students as well.
“[The class endowment] gives students motivation to excel, they see that there are alumni who are succeeding and providing opportunities for them,” Dean Durst said.
The Class of 1967 is proud to be part of the legacy that is the College of Pharmacy, a point of pride for both of the Reunion Committee respondents. As Byrnes commented, “The College of Pharmacy had a quality program when we attended, and it has been significantly enhanced under the strong leadership of Dean Durst and President Eisler.”
Cook echoed Byrne’s sentiments.
“It’s special when you graduate from the College of Pharmacy at Ferris,” Cook confided. “Our 1967 graduating class consisted of eighty-four students who started pharmacy school in 1962 and spent the next five years together, going to the same classes with the same professors. We shared a lot of common experiences together and became close to one another and our professors. We really knew all of our professors, and they really knew us, and that’s different than anywhere else.” Cook explained. “That’s the Ferris trademark.”