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Founders Day 2007 Snapshots of Our Past Present Future David L. Eisler, president Ferris State University

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founders day 2007 snapshots of our past present future
Founders Day 2007 Snapshots of Our Past Present Future

David L. Eisler, president

Ferris State University

On Thursday Aug. 30, 2007, I delivered some remarks to the Ferris community. This presentation is a shortened version of those remarks. To put this online, some of the visuals have had to be reduced in terms of their file sizes and may appear less sharp than in the original. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy this report on where the University is today, where we have been and where we will be in the future.

our founders
Our Founders

We are unique among public universities in Michigan by being named for our founders, Woodbridge and Helen Ferris. This gives us a sense of tradition and history that other schools don’t have.

september 1 1884
September 1, 1884

Woodbridge taught the first class at what was then the Big Rapids Industrial school on September first, 1884. Ten men and five women were enrolled.

morning exercises 1911
Morning Exercises 1911

For many years the school day began with “morning exercises,” which consisted of communal singing and remarks from Woodbridge Ferris.

high tech 1952
High Tech - 1952

One of things I’m going to be talking about is how much things have changed. Here’s an example of what high-tech looked like in 1952.

dining services then now
Dining ServicesThen Now

Our Dining Services has changed dramatically over the years. This is a photo of our first cafeteria. Compare that to Center Ice or any of our other full-service dining areas.

1899 1900

I’m also going to touch upon the challenges we have, such as keeping a college education affordable. This flyer from the turn of the 20th century advertises that $125 would pay for living expenses, including room and board, lights and tuition for 36 weeks for students study the Commercial course, Telegraphy or Shorthand. Other programs were even less expensive.


As a university we often look more at shortcomings than our accomplishments. The measure of success for a university will always be its graduates. The learning that our faculty lead and the support we provide creates great graduates, people whose lives have changed from this experience and who are prepared to not only succeed, but to lead.

success students
Success - Students
  • Ferris attracts better prepared students
  • More and more of our programs are becoming selective admission because of student demand.
  • Students are more engaged both on and off campus
  • Job placement rates remain high even with Michigan’ poor economy

We have been increasing our admission standards even as we have been increasing our enrollment. This means we have better prepared students who are actively involved in the life of the campus and the community. When they graduate they are getting good jobs, even in Michigan’s current economic climate.

success irc
Success – IRC

I’m very excited about our completely removed IRC building. Our renovation stresses making the spaces more learning-centered, and is designed to create possibility for education both inside and outside of the classroom.

success facilities
Success - Facilities
  • Master plans have been completed for both Big Rapids and Grand Rapids campuses
  • A comprehensive facility and infrastructure audit is completed
  • Ferris has revised 47 classrooms as part of a project to modernize all classrooms on campus

We are working on upgrading many other sites through our classroom modernization project. Like the renovation of the IRC, the mission of our classroom modernization is to make our facilities user-friendly, technologically up-to-date and geared to the mission of learning.

success classrooms
Success - Classrooms

Those who worked in Allied Health Building Room 420 politely described it as dreadful.

success classrooms13
Success - Classrooms

I taught my first Ferris class in SCI 117. In the “before” photo, note the immovable lab bench in the center of the teaching space and the high tech overhead projector.

success enrollment
Success - Enrollment
  • Today enrollment is 13,039
  • Increase of –
    • 550 students
    • 5,782 SCH
    • 237 Big Rapids students

Enrollment is one of our great success stories for this fall. For the first time in history enrollment is greater than 13,000! Accompanying this is an increase in credit hours. Enrollment is strong in Big Rapids locations, at FSU-GR and the Kendall College of Art and Design.

success development
Success - Development
  • Ferris Foundation grows from $18.7 million (2002) to $36.5 million (2007),a 95% increase
  • In 2007
    • Number University donors increase 10%
    • Cash donations increase 16%
    • Total cash contributions over $4.2 million
    • Dow Foundation pledges $1 million for new Optometry Building

The Ferris Foundation continues to have strong support from donors. In the past five years, total assets for the Foundation have almost doubled. This has helped us increase scholarship support and support for resources for faculty and staff initiatives.


The history of Ferris is one of challenge. Whether it was the struggle to build the Alumni Building in 1929 during the Great Depression. The economic challenges of the 20s and 40s were such that at times bedsprings were sold from residences to cover costs. Then, of course, there was the great fire of 1950. Ferris is no stranger to significant challenges. One of our donors societies is called the Phoenix Society because this University truly did rise from the ashes. The challenges we face today might not be as immediately dramatic, but will nonetheless require the same dedication and perseverance.

challenges state support
Challenges:State Support
  • June 2007 – budget reduction
  • August payment delayed

- $4.5 million

  • State economy continues to decline
  • No state budget approved
  • No indications that legislature and governor have dealt with revenues

This past year has been a worst-case scenario for state support. In June, the last month of our annual budget, the state reduced its support to us by $843,400. The governor and legislature then delayed our August payment of $4.5 million. Meanwhile, the state’s economy has yet to rebound.

challenges cost
  • Current resident tuition is $8,700
  • Room and board is $7,646
  • Ferris students receive fifth highest amount of financial aid.
  • Average unmet need (on an annual student budget of $16,000) is more than $2,000.

The cost of a college education is increasing rapidly in Michigan. My hope is that for spring semester we be able to remove the $8/credit contingency fee added to help defray the delayed payment.

safety and security
Safety and Security

This last Spring we had a memorial for the shooting victims at Virginia Tech. That tragedy made it painfully clear that as a community we need to do everything we can to assure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

In 2003 I asked Public Safety Director Marty Bledsoe to lead a process to develop and implement an effective and comprehensive emergency management plan for Ferris State University on its campuses in Big Rapids and Grand Rapids. From that effort, Emergency and Safety Procedures Guides were developed and distributed to all employees.

Please help me with our emergency management preparedness. Find this brochure and read it. If you can not find it, please call Public Safety at (231) 591-5000 and ask for another one.

safety and security20
Safety and Security

Over the past week I have read through the internal review at Virginia Tech (VT) of this tragedy. We already do a number of these recommendations. Today I will begin reading the external review released by Virginia’s Gov. Timothy Kaine this morning.

I am very pleased with the leadership of our emergency management team and find their excellent preparation validated by other colleges and universities who use our materials as a guide. This is an opportunity where can learn from the VT materials.

  • Director of Public Safety, Marty Bledsoe, will lead a review of the security infrastructure
  • Chief Technology Officer, John Urbanick will lead a review of the information and communications infrastructure
  • Vice President for Student Affairs Dan Burcham, will lead a review of the interface and interactions in working with students at risk
  • Because much of this tragedy occurred in a classroom building, Vice President Tom Oldfield will appoint co-chairs for these efforts from Academic Affairs
  • These campus leaders will work with existing groups, adding members as needed to review these documents and bring back recommendations for our University.
challenges a changing world and rapidly changing demographics
Challenges – A Changing World and Rapidly Changing Demographics
  • The world we live in is –
      • Global
      • Multi-cultural
      • Multi-ethnic
      • And growing more diverse by the moment

Because we live in a global, multi-cultural world, we need to create a campus that is home to all of the students who come here, and prepare all of our students to live, work and lead in a multi-ethnic culture.

the challenge
The Challenge
  • Create and adopt the first university-wide diversity plan in Ferris State University history

To facilitate that goal, we are undertaking our first-ever University-wide diversity plan. Chief Diversity Officer David Pilgrim has talked to many departments already. As an institution, our conversations about culture, race, sexual orientation and disabilities will help to better understand each other and create a place where everyone can come to teach, learn and work in a welcoming environment.

important priorities
Important Priorities
  • Create a new leadership structure that emphasizes the importance of academics at our University,Search for Provost
  • Prepare for 2010-2011 Higher Learning CommissionAccreditation

At the end of spring semester with the assistance of the academic deans, a search committee for a provost was organized. This effort is underway and ably led by co-chairs Professor Robert Loesch and Dean Ellen Haneline. This is also the year to accelerate our preparation for the Higher Learning Commission Review in 2010-2011. I have asked Vice President Tom Oldfield and Associate Vice President Robbie Teahen to lead these efforts.

ferris state university

Ferris State University

1997 -2007

Change happens continually at our University. Because we are a part of it, we don’t realize how much is occurring. But when looking back over ten years, the results are stunning.

arts and sciences then
Arts and Sciences - then

Our physical campus has changed greatly in the last 10 years. Here’s the Arts and Sciences building 10 years ago…

technology then
Technology – then

Our central campus has changed a dramatically in the last few years.

national elastomer center
National Elastomer Center

One of first buildings to begin to transform central campus was the National Elastomer Center. Like many of our other buildings, the Elastomer Center was built with significant help from industry.

ewigleben ice arena
Ewigleben Ice Arena

One of the things I hear from alumni when they visit campus is, “where did you put that building?” While we don’t move buildings, we do change the roads. Here’s one example, the Ewigleben Ice Arena. Recently this facility was used to host both our Alumnus Chris Kunitz when he brought the Stanley Cup to campus. It was also where returning soldiers from Iraq were honored and reunited with family members. That road directly to south has been replaced by Wink Arena.

bond hall then
Bond Hall - then

At an alumni meeting in Naples, Fla., last January I was able to show these slides to George Rapanos…

bond hall
Bond Hall

…who donated the obelisk for the Circle of Inspiration, which has helped transform the Bond Hall complex. Sadly, George passed away earlier this year.

the art walk a concept
The Art Walk (a concept)

The Michigan Art Walk has gone from concept…

the art walk
The Art Walk

…to reality. Now it would be hard to imagine campus with these public works of art that have been created specifically for their individual locations.

the press box then
The Press Box then

If you’ve been to Top Taggart Field during the past decade to attend football games you might want to look for yourself in this photo!

wheeler pavilion
Wheeler Pavilion

The Wheeler Pavilion has made a huge difference. For people who might first experience campus through an athletic event at Top Taggart Field, the pavilion makes an important first impression.

timme library
Timme Library

Many people – especially students and their parents – are likely to have their first significant experience of campus at the Timme Center for Student Services, formerly the Timme Library.

timme center
Timme Center

Like Wheeler Pavilion, the renovated Center for Student Services makes an important first impression in terms of its physical appearance, and the student services the renovation has allowed us to consolidate in one facility.

rankin and the quad then
Rankin and the QuadThen…

I think that every really great campus has an open area that serves as the heart of the campus.

the quad
The Quad

The Quad between the Rankin Center and FLITE has become the heart of campus. A huge number of activities – both planned and spontaneous – take place on the Quad each year.

flite takes shape
FLITE Takes Shape

Of course, no building more than the Ferris Library for Information, Technology and Education has come to define the look of our campus


More than just being our flagship building, students make incredible use of FLITE. The library and quad together create an entirely different campus experience than what existed just ten years ago.

ferris state university then
Ferris State University then…

Taken together, these changes provide the resources we need to give our students…


…and Ferris State University


…the best environment we have ever had to provide opportunities for learning.

our students
Our Students


  • Entering ACT 18.4 20.9
  • Entering GPA 2.7 3.1
  • Age 22 22

But changes aren’t just in facilities. Look at the difference in our students. The students we are attracting to campus are also the best we have ever had. Entering ACT scores and Grade Point Averages have both increased significantly.

challenges costs
Challenges - Costs


  • Compensation $66,690,644 $103,942,459
  • Utilities $ 1,993,416 $ 8,129,365
  • Scholarships $ 3,182,000 $ 9,437,000
  • Technology $ 1,087,494 $ 3,433.242

Costs have increased also during this period compensation has increased by 56%, utilities by 306%, scholarships by 196% and annual investments in technology by 216%.

challenges state support46
Challenges – State Support
  • Since 2002 state support decreases by $11.6 million
    • In 1996 Michigan provided 56% of university revenue
    • Today the state provides 31%
  • Support per full-time student declines 28.3%
    • In 2001 - $6,094 per student
    • In 2007 - $4,370 per student

And we do this in an environment of staggering decreases in state support. In five years, not ten, state support has decreased $11.6 million, in 2002 the state paid for 56% of the cost of student’s education. Five years later that is 31%. We now receive 28% less for a student.

challenges state support47
Challenges – State Support
  • Since 2002 state support decreases by $16.1 million
    • In 1996 Michigan provided 56% of university revenue
    • Today the state provides 31%
  • Support per full-time student declines 35%
    • In 2001 - $6,094 per student
    • In 2007 - $3,960 per student

Should we not receive the $4.5 million payments that are currently being delayed, the impact is even worse - $16.1 million. That would mean the state would pay only 31% of a student’s cost and support during this brief period will have declined by 35%

teaching and learning
Teaching and Learning

1884 –

1996 – 15.4 student to faculty ratio

2006 – 15.6 student to faculty ratio

3,060 certificates & degrees

Alumni – 114,768

In 1884 our student to teacher ratio was 15:1, just about the same as it is today. Last year we awarded more than three thousand degrees and certificates and we have almost 115,000 alumni.


1952 –

2006 – Faculty and staff computer replacement Campus-wide wireless network Implementation of Banner system

11, 534 SCH On-line

In 1952 we had Royal manual typewriters. Today faculty and staff computers are regularly replaced, a wireless network stretches throughout campus and we have implemented a new administrative software system. This support is necessary, we now deliver more than 11,000 credit hours on-line. This would equate to about 385 full-time students.

enrollment and staffing
Enrollment and Staffing
  • Ten years ago – 9,495 students
  • Today - 12,986 students
  • Ten years ago – 474 faculty
  • Today - 530 faculty
  • Ten years ago – 1312 employees
  • Today - 1362 employees

We are running the university today with essentially the same number of total employees as ten years ago, even though we have increased enrollment by about over 35%.

strategic planning
Strategic Planning
  • Year-long University-wide effort involving all stakeholders
  • Examines who we are and what we want to become
  • Develops long-term goals for future direction of university
  • Determines initiatives that will achieve these goals

Today and at other times during the coming weeks, we will be holding stakeholder sessions for our Strategic Planning initiative. These sessions are your opportunity to express your feeling about who we are as a University and what we should become in the future.

strategic planning identifies and develops
Strategic Planning Identifies and Develops
  • Driving Forces
  • Planning Assumptions
  • Core Values
  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement
  • Goals

We will look at a range of some of the things that make us unique and the values that guide us. This is an ambitious undertaking that is critical to making sure that we shape our own future, rather than just being at the mercy of each individual challenge that arises. This is being coordinated by the Strategic Planning and Resources Council, or SPARC. Heading up SPARC is Languages and Literature Professor Robert von der Osten and Dr. David McFarland.

strategic planning53
Strategic Planning
  • Strategic Planning and Resource Planning Council (SPARC)
    • Dr. Robert von der Osten
    • Dr. David McFarland
  • Most important person in this process is You!
  • We need your involvement.
did you know
Did You Know . . .

The remainder of this presentation plays automatically with musical accompaniment.

If you are not connected to the Internet, you may view the remainder of the presentation by advancing to the next slide.

60 babies will be born in the u s 244 babies will be born in china 351 babies will be born in india
60 babies will be born in the U.S.244 babies will be born in China.351 babies will be born in India.
1 out of 4 workers today is working for a company they have been employed by for less than one year
1 out of 4 workers today is working for a company they have been employed by for less than one year.
Richest in the World
  • Largest Military
  • Center of World Business & Finance
  • Strongest Education System
  • World Center of Innovation and Invention
  • Currency the World Standard of Value
  • Highest Standard of Living
There are over 185 million registered users of MySpace(April 2007) with 350,000 new registrants each day.
the number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the population of the planet
The number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the population of the planet.
Contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
It’s estimated that 1.5 exabytes (that’s 1.5 x 1018) of unique new information will be generated worldwide this year.
half of what they learn in their first year of study could be outdated by their third year of study
Half of what they learn in their first year of study could be outdated by their third year of study.
It’s currently tripling about every 6 months and is expected to do so for at least the next 20 years.

The fiber is already there, they’re just improving the switches on the ends. Which means the marginal cost of these improvements is effectively $0.

The $100 laptop project hopes to ship between 50 and 100 million laptops a year to children in underdeveloped countries.
Predictions are that by 2013 a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computation capability of the Human Brain…
Predictions are that by 2049 a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the human race.
With grateful thanks and acknowledgement,

Karl Fisch

Director of Technology

Arapahoe High School

Centennial, Colorado

ferris and its future
Ferris and its Future

Adam Umbrasas is a spring 2007 Ferris graduate. Adam today is Village Manager of Kingsley, Michigan, just outside of Traverse City. While at Ferris, Adam was president of the Public Administration Association and secretary of the Interfraternity Council. Adam is just one of many recent graduates who are doing exciting things and being successful immediately after graduation. As we think about the future we’ll be looking at what we want to become in 2010. What is maybe most striking about Adam is that he could easily be in public service in the year 2040. So often we think about goals we set for ourselves for next month, next semester or next year. We are producing graduates who will have an impact upon the state – and the country – for decades to come. The decisions we make about the University today and the work we put into making Ferris State University a success will have affects that will be felt for years to come – and not just on campus.

Adam Umbrasas

it is an honor to serve as your president thank you so very much
It is an honor to serve as your President.Thank you so very much…

David L. Eisler, President