Karl Linebaugh, a steward of the Big Rapids community with deep admiration for Ferris State University, has been appointed to The Ferris Foundation Board of Directors.
Linebaugh, the president of Chemical Bank’s North Region, couldn’t be more pleased.
“I’ve lived in this community for 40 years,” Linebaugh said. “The nature of my job has connected me with the people who live here, and my wife and I raised our daughters here. I have a vested interest in this community, and Ferris is a big part of that interest.”
Linebaugh and his wife, Cindy, grew up in Fowlerville, a small farming community east of Lansing. He attended Western Michigan University, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in accounting, and is a graduate of the Prochnow School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
He and Cindy moved in 1972 to Big Rapids, where he started his career as an internal auditor for First National Bank. Besides the job opportunity, Linebaugh’s parents also had relocated to Big Rapids after they sold their farm in Fowlerville. His father, William, decided to retire from farming to pursue a master’s degree in communication from Michigan State University. He landed a job at Ferris, where he taught from 1969 to 1988.
Linebaugh’s parents also established the William and Marjorie Linebaugh Scholarship awarded annually to an undergraduate student majoring in communication at Ferris.
Linebaugh’s association with the university also is an extension of the bank’s connection. Founder and President Woodbridge N. Ferris was president of Big Rapids Savings Bank from 1902 until his death in 1928. The bank became First National then affiliated with Chemical Bank in 1988. Linebaugh became Big Rapids Community president in 1989.
“I have Big Rapids Savings Bank stock certificate number one in the name of Woodbridge Ferris framed and hanging in my office,” said Linebaugh, who was promoted to the bank’s North Region president in 2007. “I’m a collector of Big Rapids memorabilia, and this is fascinating to me.”
Linebaugh’s involvement in the community includes serving on various boards and committees. He is a former member and president of the Big Rapids Jaycees, and a former board member and president of the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce. He is a member who previously served as president and on the board of the Big Rapids Lions Club, and is a founding board member, past president and current member of the Mecosta County Community Foundation. He is a member of First United Methodist Church and is chair of its Finance Committee.
He also once served as co-president of ArtWorks and is on the advisory board of the Salvation Army. His contributions to the Big Rapids community have been recognized with various awards, including the Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year and the Mecosta County General Hospital Foundation’s Northern Lights Award in Business and Industry.
“I get involved to be a partner in the community,” said Linebaugh, a grandfather of four.
His involvement with Ferris includes a board position and past chair on the Friends of Ferris political action committee and membership in the FSU Founder’s Club. He is past president of the FSU Bulldog Club and served on the presidential search committee in 2003 that recommended current Ferris President David Eisler.
Linebaugh, a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan who attended Tigers Fantasy Camp in 2004, hopes to make an additional contribution to the university as a member of The Ferris Foundation board.
“There are some things I can bring to the table, and I’m very willing to learn, too,” Linebaugh said. “I’m proud to be associated with Ferris. The unique programs we have, from Pharmacy to Optometry to Professional Golf and Tennis management, set us apart from many schools. We have a wide variety of good programs … I like that you know when you come to Ferris, you will get a job when you graduate.”
“Karl brings strength in the corporate setting that is incredibly valuable to the foundation,” said Carla Miller, executive director of the foundation. “I’m delighted with Karl’s collective experience and background that will guide the board into its next phase of growth.”
The Ferris Board of Trustees approved Linebaugh’s appointment during its regular meeting in November. The board also appointed Stephanie Leonardos, of Ada, president and CEO of Amerikam, Inc.; and Michael R. Bigford, of Big Rapids, president and CEO of Utility Supply and Construction Company.
Since it was established in 1991 to address the need for a long-range fundraising program to provide opportunities for students, The Ferris Foundation has increased endowment funds to more than $35 million. It is governed by the board of directors, whose members are appointed for three-year terms.
“Karl Linebaugh and Michael Bigford will help us continue our emphasis on maintaining and furthering our connections to the Big Rapids and Reed City communities,” said board chair Kevin Cross. “Both men have substantial ties to these areas and years of strong leadership in both the banking and construction industries, respectively. We are excited to have them on the board.
“Stephanie Leonardos is a true pioneer in the Grand Rapids business and philanthropic communities. Under her leadership, Amerikam has become one of the top manufacturers and innovators in Michigan,” Cross continued. “She also makes time to give back to her community and continues to support Ferris students annually with the Amerikam scholarship. We welcome her experience as we build our foundation in Grand Rapids.”