About 1,700 of 1,850 Ferris State University students who are candidates for degrees will participate in spring commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 in Big Rapids.
The university also will recognize three honorary doctorate recipients: Richard L. Antonini, the retired CEO and chairman of Foremost Corporation of America, and Dr. Joel Robertson, chairman and CEO of Robertson Health, both Ferris alumni; and Lupe Ramos-Montigny, a retired educator who serves on the State Board of Education and on the advisory board for Ferris’ Center for Latino Studies.
Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design will hold its commencement at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 11 at Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids. Of the 249 students who will receive degrees, almost 190 are expected to participate in the ceremony that will include recognition of renowned illustrator Murray Tinkelman with a Doctor of Arts.
Ferris graduates will be honored during five ceremonies over two days in the Convocation Center (Wink Arena) in the Ewigleben Sports Complex on the Big Rapids campus. Commencement exercises on Friday are 3:30 p.m. for the College of Health Professions and 7 p.m. for the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Pharmacy, and for the first cohort of students to graduate with a Doctorate in Community College Leadership. Saturday ceremonies kick off at 9 a.m. with the College of Business, followed at 12:30 p.m. by the Michigan College of Optometry and the College of Education and Human Services. The College of Engineering Technology ceremony will begin at 4 p.m.
Doors will open to ticketed guests one hour before each ceremony is scheduled to begin. Guests without tickets can watch on a large screen in an alternative viewing room in the Ewigleben Sports Complex.
Students will hear commencement addresses from the honorary doctorate recipients.
During Friday’s 7 p.m. ceremony, Robertson will be recognized with an Honorary Doctorate of Health Services. The Gladwin native is an internationally known expert on brain chemistry, a widely recognized clinician, bestselling author and in-demand lecturer.
Robertson, who graduated from Ferris in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, went on to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Michigan and completed postgraduate studies in chemical dependency and family system therapies at Harvard University.
Robertson, the founder of Robertson Health, a network of for-profit and non-profit health and wellness companies based in Saginaw, has created brain chemistry optimization programs used by consumers, professional athletic programs and corporations worldwide.
Antonini, of Grand Rapids, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry during ceremonies at 9 a.m. Saturday. He graduated in 1964 with an Accounting degree and was honored in 1986 as a Distinguished Alumnus of the university.
Antonini retired as CEO and chairman of Foremost in 2000 following completion that year of an $812 million merger with Farmers Insurance Group of Companies. He remains active in the West Michigan community as board chairman for the Spectrum Health Foundation and on the advisory council for Wedgwood Christian Services. He was co-chair of the “For Our Kids” capital campaign for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a $286 million state-of-the art facility in downtown Grand Rapids that opened in 2011.
Antonini has been honored for his involvement in the community, most recently in 2012 with induction into the Junior Achievement West Michigan Business Hall of Fame, which honors prominent business leaders who have made extraordinary contributions.
During the 12:30 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, Ramos-Montigny will be awarded a Doctorate of Public Service for her work as an educator and community advocate. The Weslaco, Texas native worked for 36 years in public education, the majority dedicated to Grand Rapids Public Schools as a teacher and principal, before retiring in 2008. In November, she was elected for an eight-year term to the State Board of Education.
Ramos-Montigny has served the past 12 years as chairperson of the Committee to Honor Cesar E. Chavez, which works to advance the educational aspirations of Hispanic students pursuing a college education. The group also organizes an annual social justice march in Grand Rapids, which Ferris students, faculty and staff participate in.
She serves on the advisory board of Ferris’ Center for Latino Studies, an initiative designed to enhance the university’s connections with West Michigan Latino communities and to provide a home for Latino students and those interested in Latin American culture.
Ramos-Montigny, a member of the Student Advancement Foundation Board to support GRPS students and a child advocate and vice-chair for the Kent County Citizens Friend of the Court Advisory Board, also serves on the executive committees for the Kent County and Michigan Democratic parties.