Ferris State University is governed by a Board of Trustees which has general supervision of the institution and controls and directs institutional expenditures. Members of the Board serve eight-year, staggered terms as appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate.
The President of the University is appointed by the Board of Trustees as its principal executive officer and serves at its pleasure. The President is an ex-officio member of the Board without the right to vote.
Ferris State University is named for its founder, Woodbridge N. Ferris, a distinguished Michigan politician and educator who served two terms as the State's governor and was elected to the United States Senate.
Founded in 1884 under the name Big Rapids Industrial School, the School's title soon changed to Ferris Industrial School and then, in 1889, to Ferris Institute. In 1963, by an act of the Michigan Legislature, it became Ferris State College, and in November of 1986, by Executive Order, the name was changed to Ferris State University.
W.N. Ferris operated the school as a privately-owned institution. In 1931, a group of Big Rapids businessmen took over the reins and operated it as a non-profit organization until 1949 when it was given to the State of Michigan.
Public Act 114 of Michigan Public Acts of 1949 provided that Ferris become a State institution on July 1, 1950.
It is this Act which created the Board of Trustees.