Friday, September 11, 2009

Ferris In The News

City of Big Rapids Recognizes Heroic Actions

Sometimes law enforcement officers aren’t the only people going above and beyond the call of duty in emergency situations. In those cases, the police like to reward the heroes in their midst, the Big Rapids Pioneer reports. During a recent Big Rapids City Council meeting, department of Public Safety officials honored residents and businesses for their outstanding contributions to city residents’ safety throughout the summer. Ferris State University employees Steve Stratton, Geri Johnson and Richelle Boerma all received certificates for their “heroic actions” during the July 22 lightning strike that injured four electrical workers on campus. Ferris police officers Bill Saunders and Tim Jacobs also were honored for their actions. “They really went above and beyond,” said Big Rapids DPS Director Frank West. “There were still (lightning) strikes going on while they performed lifesaving tasks.”

Ferris Names Firing Range for Program Founder

Ferris State University says it’s honoring the man who founded its criminal justice program 37 years ago by naming its firing range for him, reports the Chicago Tribune. The Big Rapids school says it will call the facility the Dr. Robert L. Parsons Law Enforcement Training Center. Parsons retired in 2002 and now is a professor emeritus at Ferris. The school says 3,000 students have graduated from the criminal justice program since it opened in 1972. Ferris says Parsons has been a major fundraiser for the criminal justice program, bringing in more than $8 million for weapons certification and training efforts.

Ferris Professor Discusses Health Care

President Barack Obama summoned Congress to enact sweeping health care legislation Wednesday night, declaring the “time for bickering is over” and the moment has arrived to protect millions who have unreliable insurance or no coverage at all, the Big Rapids Pioneer reports. Although the United States spends more on health care than any other country, our nation’s overall health ranks below most other developed nations, said Steven Karnes, Ferris professor of Health Care Systems Administration. Obama’s speech was needed to clarify what the president would like to see in a final health care bill, Karnes said. “There has been a lot of misinformation about death panels and other things that aren’t part of any bill,” he said. Mecosta County Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Sam Daugherty said difficulty for the hospital to maintain a positive bottom line is one of the driving forces behind a potential merger with Spectrum Healthcare Resources. Karnes added, when uninsured patients seek basic health care treatment from emergency rooms taxpayers end up paying more. “We’re paying for it through higher premiums,” Karnes said. “We would actually pay less if we would just create a better system and organize the way we do health care.”

Ferris State Volleyball Digging Support For African Well Fund Charity

The 2009 Ferris State University women's volleyball team is presently soliciting donations for the African Well Fund and every cent donated for a Bulldog dig in all of FSU's 2009 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) regular-season matches both home and away will go directly to support this worthwhile endeavor.

African Well Fund is a registered non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for building and maintaining wells in Africa. The Bulldog women's volleyball team is directly involved in the Dig A Well For Kids charity fundraiser in which the proceeds raised will help to ensure safe water and enhanced sanitation for rural schools in Uganda.

For those wishing to make a donation, a pledge per dig can be made by signing a pledge sheet which will be available at the door of the Ewigleben Sports Arena prior to every 2009 FSU women's volleyball regular-season conference home match. Donations will also be accepted via e-mail by contacting Bulldog women's volleyball head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm at or assistant coach Theresa Beeckman at For more information, please contact the Ferris State women's volleyball office at (231) 591-2871 or 2745.

"We're always engaged in community activities and believe outreaching to the world community is important," said Katie Edwards (Cedar Springs), a current FSU women's volleyball senior student-athlete about the team's African Well Fund fundraiser. "It's really inspiring for us to touch our community, but also to help others worldwide who are far less fortunate than we are. We (Americans) tend to take water for granted, but the limited or no access to water for the Ugandans is a difficult hardship which they shouldn't have to endure.

"It's comforting to know our digs on the court will have added significance and strive for us to play at a continuous high level," added Edwards.

African Well Fund was formed in October 2002 by a group of U2 fans inspired by the media coverage of Bono's May 2002 trip to Africa with then Secretary of U.S. Treasury, Paul O'Neill. Struck by the relatively low cost of building a well and the enormous difference that a well can make in the life of a village, we were convinced that raising the money to build a well was an easily achievable goal. It was from this conviction that the African Well Fund (AWF) was born.

All donations to the African Well Fund go directly to Africare. Africare is a leader among private, charitable U.S. organizations assisting Africa. It is the oldest and largest African-American organization in the field. Since its founding in 1970, Africare has delivered more than $450 million in assistance to 35 countries Africa-wide. To learn more about Africare and their work please visit

Ferris State opens its 2009 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) slate this Friday (Sept. 11) versus the Wayne State Warriors in Big Rapids, Mich. A 7 p.m. (EDT) start time is scheduled for the conference opener at FSU's Ewigleben Sports Arena.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ferris Emeriti Association President Brenda Vasicek Speaks About Ferris State University

BIG RAPIDS - Ferris Emeriti Association President Brenda Vasicek was one of many people who have been a part of the Ferris State University family.

Vasicek returned to Ferris on Founders' Day and shared some of her memories with us about Ferris and about what she hoped to get out of the great activities scheduled for Founders' Day to kick off the 125th anniversary year celebration.

Vasicek taught at Ferris for 26 years before she retired four years ago.

Learn more about the great people who are leading the Ferris Emeriti Association by visiting:


Ferris Announces Creation of Helen’s Garden to Honor Founder

PictureBIG RAPIDS – Helen Gillespie Ferris had a love of flowers and gardening. She also made an impact in the classroom at what is now known as Ferris State University, the only public institution in the state of Michigan to bear the name of its founders: Woodbridge N. and Helen Ferris.

In remembering Helen’s love of gardening and her passion for education, Ferris State University announced Tuesday the creation of Helen’s Garden.

The garden will be nestled between the university’s Prakken and Alumni buildings on the northeast corner of campus featuring plant varieties notable in early 20th century gardens such as Bluebell and Lily of the Valley. Taking the concept from vision to fruition will be Ferris students studying Ornamental Horticulture.

“Ferris has a rich history and was built on a beautiful love story,” said Ferris professor emeritus Frank Crowe, who was inspired to propose the creation of Helen’s Garden after reading at length about Ferris’ founders. “You know the adage, ‘Behind every good man…I think Helen was in front of a great man.’”

It is fitting for the university community to today honor Helen’s contributions through creation of a garden, Crowe added.

John Vanderploeg, Ferris professor of Biology and Ornamental Horticulture, will lead the team of students charged with developing Helen’s Garden.

“This is a wonderful learning opportunity for students to visit the site of their proposal,” Vanderploeg said. “As a class we can meet not only in the Science building but at the site to develop the vision.”

For more information or to make a gift to Helen’s Garden, please contact The Ferris Foundation at (231) 591-2365 or Details about establishing scholarships or endowments may be obtained from the Advancement Office at (231) 591-3825.

Retiring Pharmacist Got Training At Ferris State University

ST. JOSEPH - Ask Bill Gillespie and Judd DeYoung what they like about being pharmacists, and they'll both give you the same answer.

"What I really like is you get to talk to people and meet people," Gillespie said."I just love people," DeYoung added. "I like being able to help them."Gillespie, 85, retired late last month from Richard Gillespie Pharmacy in St. Joseph, and DeYoung, 73, will work his last day there today.

The pair have more than 100 years of pharmacy experience between them.

Gillespie earned his pharmacy degree in 1950 at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. DeYoung earned his degree in 1961 at Ferris State University.

Both men have spent their entire careers working in Southwest Michigan.

The name Gillespie is practically synonymous with pharmacy in St. Joseph.Gillespie's father, Frank, established Gillespie's Drug Store in 1905 at 220 State St. in St. Joseph.

For the full story, written by Kevin Allen, visit the Herald-Palladium Web site:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ferris In The News

Ferris Co-founder Honored With Memorial Garden

Ferris State University honored the woman who helped shape the university with a ceremonial groundbreaking dedication of a garden in her name Tuesday, reports the Big Rapids Pioneer. The garden, which was dedicated in the name of Helen Gillespie Ferris, co-founder of the university, will be located in a green space outside the Prakken Building, and will feature trees, shrubs, and annual and perennial flowers. The garden will serve as a memorial for Ferris and her love of flowers and gardening, said Ferris professor of Biology and Ornamental Horticulture John Vanderploeg, whose class will be working on the construction of the garden. “Students will have the opportunity to get involved in a project everyone can appreciate,” he said.

Hobart and Ferris Partner for Training

Hobart Service (Troy, Ohio) has initiated an effort to become capable of servicing commercial foodservice refrigeration equipment out of all their offices nationwide within the next several years, the Big Rapids Pioneer reports. Hobart approached Ferris State University to train their more than 1,500 service technicians. It was not a coincidence that Ferris was looked at to partner in providing this training. When Hobart first started to discuss this strategic move into a new service market, Ferris was the first school to come to Jim Boeke’s (HVAC ’70), director product service and training at Hobart, mind. Working with Tom Crandell, director of Ferris’ Corporate & Professional Development Center, Hobart and Ferris established a balanced combination of classroom and hands-on training in the development of this customized school. Under the direction of Ed Phillips, training instructor with Hobart, the program was designed by Ferris’ assistant professor Joe Compton, adjunct faculty member Bob Persons and assistant professor Joe Pacella; Compton and Persons also were the instructors.

125th Geocaching Event Celebrates Ferris’ Past, Present and Future

Calling all adventurers: If your motto is “have GPS must travel,” then Ferris State University’s 125th Geocaching Event is your next big quest, reports the Big Rapids Pioneer. To participate, all you need is a GPS device, a 125th Geocaching Event card and a few hours of time, said event chair Scott Thede. Explorers began testing their navigational skills Sept. 3, with the event continuing through May 2010 for future geocachers. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt, with caches hidden and maintained by anyone who wishes to participate, Thede said. Adventurers then find these caches using GPS units. A cache is a box containing coordinates describing how to find the next cache. The caches designed for the 125th Geocaching Event will include informational material about the university. “The caches also will include SWAG, or stuff we all get, including items such as key chains or pens,” Thede said. “And, those people who take an item can feel free to leave an item.”

Ferris Alum John Engelman II Shares Thoughts On University, History

BIG RAPIDS - As part of a festive Founders' Day celebration at Ferris State University, we took time to talk to one of our fine alums, John Engelman II, who took time out of his schedule to visit with us.

John, who was visiting Ferris from where he currently lives (Wisconsin) shared some of his memories of the University and spoke about some of the great times he had as a student and as a member of the Alumni Association Board.

John graduated from Ferris in 1964 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2007.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thoughts About Founders' Day And What Makes It Special

BIG RAPIDS - Being amongst people who care so deeply about Ferris State University was one of the great aspects of Founders' Day and what makes it special.

To be sure, a major component of Founders' Day is reflecting on the history and recognizing the works and deeds of Woodbridge Nathan Ferris and Helen Gillespie Ferris - the founders of Ferris State University. We could spend hours upon hours talking about how much Woodbridge and Helen have given to make FSU what it is today and about the bond they started that has grown stronger between Ferris State University and the Big Rapids community. We could spend hours and probably still not do their great contributions justice.

But, seeing so many people come out for Founders' Day, including alumni, Board of Trustees members, faculty, local community members, staff and students did plenty to make the event special. The picnic, the activities, the great conversations and more helped made the event special.

I enjoyed the interactions I had with members of the aforementioned groups were the memories I will take away from Founders' Day - above and beyond the history behind what Founders' Day actually stands for. I enjoyed their stories to help illustrate how far the University has come over the years and decades. We've come a long way since the days of The Big Rapids Industrial School to where we are today with more than 13,000 students around the state.

It has been an amazing first 125 years and should be a great next 125 years.
For more on Founders' Day and how it was received, visit:
For the history of Ferris State University, visit:

School of Education Ranks Among Top Schools in Michigan

BIG RAPIDS – Ferris State University’s School of Education ranks among the top schools in the state of Michigan for teacher preparation.

The designation comes from the Michigan Department of Education, which ranked Ferris’ School of Education as exemplary in its 2007-08 Report on Teacher Preparation Institution Performance Scores. Ferris was in line with peer institutions scoring 68 out of 70 possible points.

“This report shows we’re doing the right thing,” said Michelle Johnston, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, under which the School of Education is housed at Ferris. “Our students are excellent, and this report shows they are performing better than ever; their test scores have improved, and they are more hirable, competent young professionals.”

The report helps the state of Michigan identify how well students are prepared for their career as a teacher, School of Education Director Liza Ing said. It is an annual process that helps determine how well students know their content area and whether they have the pedagogy to be a teacher.

Results are tabulated from exit surveys of students upon completion of their student teaching experience, Ing said. Supervisor surveys also are conducted, with supervisors confirming the student teachers are well-versed in their content area, are comfortable with technology and are able to work well in the classroom.

“Student teaching is a vital component of the learning process,” Ferris Coordinator of Student Teaching and Field Experience Karen Baar said. “The focus is on field experience and really getting students to understand how to be a teacher.”

For the complete version of the story, visit Ferris State University's News Services Web site at

Ferris Officials Report Record Fall Enrollment

BIG RAPIDS – Students are back and the campus is bustling at Ferris State University, where officials are reporting another record fall enrollment.

The fastest-growing public university in Michigan, Ferris officials report there are 13,865 students enrolled systemwide. With 333 more students attending classes in Fall 2009 over 2008, this translates into a 2.5 percent enrollment increase systemwide.

“As Ferris celebrates its 125th anniversary of providing educational opportunities, these enrollment numbers are an exceptional start to the year,” said Fritz Erickson, Ferris provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Strong enrollment growth systemwide demonstrates Ferris is offering courses that will prepare the future leaders of Michigan who in turn will help invigorate the state’s economy.”

Dean of Enrollment Services Kristen Salomonson noted the regular philosophy at Ferris is to merge classroom learning with practical experience. This, coupled with small class sizes and personal attention from faculty and staff, is reassuring to parents and students, she said.

“The Ferris experience is unique, and we’re pleased so many new and returning students are pursuing their education with us,” Salomonson added. “In this economy, the gateway to success is higher education and a degree. We want to make sure we’re doing our part to help the state and its residents.”

For the complete story, visit the Ferris News Services Site:

Mayor Warba Speaks About Bond Between Ferris, Big Rapids

BIG RAPIDS - On Tuesday, Sept. 1, City of Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba delivered a great speech about the relationship between Ferris State University and the Big Rapids community on Founders' Day.

Mayor Warba was joined by Ferris State University President David L. Eisler and other local dignitaries including State Rep. Darwin Booher to pay tribute to the founders of Ferris State University, Woodbridge Nathan Ferris and Helen Gillespie Ferris.

The wreath-laying ceremony took place at The Highland View Cemetery in Big Rapids with a great turnout. Among the local dignitaries who offered remarks were President Eisler, Rep. Booher and Mayor Warba as well as Jon Fleming and Jerena Keys from the United Church of Big Rapids.

Another thanks to all who were on hand to make it a special event honoring the founders of Ferris State University.