Ferris Community Mourns Death of Former President Bill Wenrich

J. William “Bill” WenrichThe Ferris State University community is mourning the loss of former Ferris President J. William “Bill” Wenrich, 73, who passed away at his Dallas,Texas, home on July 6, 2010.

Most recently, Ferris faculty, staff, students and community members had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Wenrich during the president’s symposium in April as part of the University’s 125th anniversary celebration. Although he was unable to travel to Big Rapids for the symposium, he shared pre-recorded comments with the audience.

Although it has been more than 20 years since Dr. Wenrich led Ferris, President David L Eisler said he has remained closely connected with the University. “Bill played an important role in developing Ferris’ Educational Doctorate in Community College Leadership and his own leadership of Ferris, combined with his expertise in community college education, made his advice in the design of this program uniquely invaluable.”

Eisler added, “Bill had great vitality and remained engaged with Ferris State University. Those who knew him personally and others who simply benefited from his leadership feel the loss of his passing. ”

Dr. Wenrich served as Ferris’ president from 1984 to 1988. He first came to Ferris in 1971 as a vice president working with then President Robert Ewigleben and then returned in 1984 to assume the presidency.

In a 1988 edition of the FYI faculty/staff newsletter, Dr. Wenrich cited some of his most notable accomplishments, including the construction of the Holiday Inn and Conference Center and renovations to classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices. In a September 1988 FSU Torch student newspaper article, he expressed pride in an increase of enrollment, construction of the Heavy Equipment building, renovation of the Racquet and Fitness Center, expansion of the Rankin Student Center and addition of on-campus child care.

Dr. Wenrich left Ferris in 1988 to head the San Diego Community College District and two years later became chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, the largest undergraduate educational institution in Texas. He retired from DCCCD in 2003 and continued to serve as chancellor emeritus.

In January 2009, Dr. Wenrich was honored with the National Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges for his role in helping to train the next generation of community college leaders and improving access to higher education for thousands of students.

Before beginning his long and distinguished career as an administrator in higher education and as a consultant and author in the fields of adult and vocational education and community development, the cum laude Princeton and University of Michigan graduate, who spoke Spanish fluently, did foreign service work for the Dominican Republic for the International Development Foundation of New York and the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., and Bolivia.

08 July, 2010