As one becomes familiar with the many conflicting aspects of Ferris the institution during its first century of development, so too does one become attuned to the contradictory nature of Ferris the man.
The complexity of this pioneer in American education may never be understood or appreciated by those who did not know him personally as a mentor or colleague. The unquestioned loyalty to W.N. Ferris' authoritarian style of leadership by his students and associates seems almost inexplicable as one chuckles over the rules and mandates he established for his institution.
In contrast, evidence abounds relative to his tireless efforts to assist students, parents and school employees. One might speculate that the immense amount of love he held for his fellow man is the major reason history has recorded him as Michigan's "Good Grey Governor." He was a man respected by virtually all who were touched by the genius of his work in education.
One suspects that W.N. Ferris would be immensely pleased by the state of his school some 100 years after its founding. For despite its many changes over the years, the Pestalozzian principles which he and Helen espoused still abide in the classrooms, workshops, labs and clinics of the college which bears his name. In all, it is a fitting memorial to this amazingly complex man who so forcefully brought into play his educational brilliance.
Ferris the institution is a daily reminder of Ferris the man's contributions to American education and the people of Michigan.
Professor of Education
Ferris State College