Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Faces of Ferris: Robert Friar

Born and raised on an Indiana dairy farm, in a country recovering from the devastating economic impacts of the Great Depression and World War II, opportunities were quite scarce. Somehow, Robert Friar discovered his inner drive to beat the odds. The foundation of his inner drive was built on strong support from his father — a man who appreciated the value of a college education. Dr. Friar's path to college, however, was hardly a yellow-brick road to great things. Financially, there were challenges. Friar recalled his two older sisters already were in college. So, the path to excellence required him to roll up his proverbial sleeves and get to work.

"My parents really couldn't afford three kids in college," said Friar, who was earned a scholarship to Purdue University and began part-time work from 2 to 7 a.m. milking 120 cows on the university's research dairy farm each morning — then he was off to his 8 a.m. class. "For three years, I went to class, studied and worked. . .that was all that I did. . .I didn't have much time for a social life or anything else. During my senior year, I was offered a job in a research lab with a better work schedule, fewer hours and better pay; and it opened new doors of opportunity."

Hard work and opportunity, a combination that goes hand in hand, has led to excellence for Friar as a student, a husband, a family man, a teacher, a lecturer and more.

Friar went on, thanks to hard work and some sacrifices, to earn bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Purdue.

Ultimately, destiny led him north of the Indiana-Michigan border to the small community of Big Rapids. In 1967, Friar first planted roots at an institution of higher learning — what today is known as Ferris State University. He arrived at Ferris with enthusiasm and the desire to make a positive impact on the lives of young people seeking a college education.

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