Fans visiting Ferris State University’s Robert L. Ewigleben Sports Complex now have an even greater opportunity to learn a little more about the man behind the name.
On Friday, Oct. 19, President David Eisler and the university’s History Task Force honored former President Robert L. Ewigleben and Esther J. Ewigleben for their significant contributions to intercollegiate athletics at Ferris. The unveiling of a plaque located on the concourse of the sports complex between Ewigleben Ice Arena, home of the Bulldog hockey team, and the James M. Wink Arena, home of the Bulldog men’s and women’s basketball teams, highlighted the special ceremony.
“There will never be a president of Ferris State University who has Bob’s ability to innovate and his ability to come up with creative ideas,” Eisler said as he was joined at the podium by Ronald E. Snead, chair of the Board of Trustees; Perk Weisenburger, director of Athletics; and President Ewigleben during the ceremony.
Ewigleben served as Ferris president from 1971 to 1984. He took over for John R. Smith, who briefly stepped in after the retirement of President Victor F. Spathelf, who served from 1952 to 1970. During Ewigleben’s tenure as president, Ferris achieved more than 40 curriculum changes and established the Michigan College of Optometry, the state’s only such program, the $6 million Manufacturing Resource and Production Center, and what is today known as the Ewigleben Sports Complex.
The facility was originally dedicated as the “Ewigleben Sports Complex” on Dec. 12, 1986.
“People have no idea what Ferris has meant to me,” Ewigleben said. “Ferris gave me an unusual opportunity to work in an environment with the types of programming that I, coming out of a working-class family, believe society needs.”
Ewigleben was particularly instrumental in establishing college hockey at Ferris and helped lead the transition to NCAA Division I status during his time as president.