A long-time faculty member and a former student whose careers are critical to the safety and security of others have been selected as grand marshals for Ferris State University’s Homecoming 2012.
Terry and Andrea Nerbonne couldn’t be more thrilled.
“This is a huge, huge honor,” said Andrea Nerbonne, a Ferris alumna who retired earlier this year from the Michigan State Police and now leads the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety. “I’ve always loved this community. This is home.”
The Nerbonnes are vocal advocates for a Ferris education and the quality of life in Big Rapids, but they are most thankful for meeting here. Terry, who has been a professor in the Criminal Justice program almost since its inception nearly 40 years ago, first met Andrea when she was a student in the 1980s. Three years after she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, they ran into each other at an event in Petoskey. They’ve been married since 1993.
“I fell in love with this place, and I’ve never had a day that I didn’t want to come to work,” Terry said. “And I met my future wife here.”
The Nerbonnes will join in the homecoming celebration that kicks off Monday, Oct. 8 and culminates on Saturday, Oct. 13 with the parade and football game.
“We are so excited that Terry and Andrea Nerbonne were selected to serve as grand marshals for Homecoming 2012,” said Jeremy Mishler, director of Alumni Relations and Advancement Operations. “The Nerbonnes’ long career in public service leadership and their generous support of Ferris and our greater community complement our ‘Brutus for President’ homecoming theme in an exceptionally positive way.
“We hope all of our students and alumni who have meant so much to them over the years will celebrate this honor with them.”
Terry, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Highway Traffic Safety Administration from Michigan State University, worked as an officer with the Lansing Police Department before leaving to start the Criminal Justice program at Northern Michigan University. When he came to Ferris, there were about 20 students enrolled in the newly-developed major. Today, there are 1,200, making Criminal Justice Ferris’ largest academic program.
The Lansing native, who serves as the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards coordinator, is a tried-and-true Bulldog and serves as the faculty representative on the Athletic Advisory Committee. He was honored by his peers as the Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 1993.
After she graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, Andrea joined the Michigan State Police and was first assigned to the Petoskey post, where she spent seven years. She was transferred to the Lakeview post as a field training officer and served on Mackinac Island. She worked her way up the ranks from there, first with a promotion to sergeant at the Lakeview and Reed City posts, then assistant lieutenant at Rockford, post commander at Mount Pleasant and Reed City, and then as region commander for the Lakeview, Ithaca and Ionia posts. She retired from the Michigan State Police on Feb. 3 and was named director of the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety on Feb. 9. She oversees the police and fire departments for the community.
“I love the Ferris campus and the Big Rapids community,” said Andrea, who grew up in Bay City. “When I was a student, I felt very safe here. I want students now to feel safe and I want their parents to believe they are, too. The city works very closely with the university all year round, and homecoming is a celebration of that almost.”
The Nerbonnes, who live in the Hersey area with their golden retrievers, spend much of their time attending Bulldog sporting events. Both said they “are honored” to represent Ferris as grand marshals for Homecoming and are excited to see former students and classmates return to campus for the celebration.
“Students call me all the time,” Terry said. “I don’t think I’ve had a student who didn’t say ‘I’m glad I went to Ferris.’”
The homecoming parade begins at noon Saturday, Oct. 13 and will be followed by the football game at 2 p.m. at Top Taggart Field, which pits the Bulldogs against the Hillsdale College Chargers.