Founders' Day celebrates heritage, reaches out to campus and local communities

BIG RAPIDS - When I was your age...ah how the old adage goes. But if today's Ferris State University students went back in time they'd definitely see a different side of the campus they'll call home for the next four to five years.

Rewind to Sept. 1, 1884, and the scene is two small rooms located in downtown Big Rapids. In fact, the University had yet to become a state institution or even take on the name of its founders, as it was then known as Big Rapids Industrial School.

Fast forward to Aug. 30, 2007, and what once was a vision for Woodbridge and Helen Ferris, who sought to provide an education for all in this logging community, is a dream that became a reality.

To celebrate this dream and the University's distinct heritage are several activities, including a State of the University address by President David Eisler, a picnic for faculty, staff and students on the Campus Quad and an old-fashioned community ice cream social.

Eisler will present his State of the University address at 11 a.m. in the Rankin Student Center Dome Room. The picnic on the Campus Quad immediately follows his address. The day's activities will literally be topped off with a cherry at a free, old-fashioned ice cream social from 5 to 7 p.m., also located on the Campus Quad.

"One of the special and distinct characteristics of our university is the heritage of our founders Woodbridge and Helen Ferris," Eisler said. "Founders' Day gives the campus and Big Rapids community a chance to not only celebrate the start of another academic year but also gives us a chance to take stock of where we are today as an institution of higher learning and where we’re headed."

It is a great time of year for everyone, including the Big Rapids community, to share in the University's history and future, added Ferris General Counsel Miles Postema.

Bustling with more than 9,000 students on its Big Rapids campus and more than 12,000 system wide, and home to more than 170 degree programs, Ferris State University is now providing educational opportunities to not only students hailing from Michigan but across the United States and even throughout the world.

"The ice cream social is a way to bring the community on campus when it's busy and vibrant," Postema said. "The idea is to have a campus open house-type atmosphere for the University and community to come together."

29 August, 2007