Ferris State University alumnus Howard Stross is the new chair of The Ferris Foundation Board of Directors and will lead its effort to strengthen the university and provide opportunities for students.
Stross, of Palm Harbor, Fla., was elected to the two-year term during the board’s Nov. 1 meeting in Grand Rapids. He succeeds Kevin Cross, of Grand Rapids, who will serve as immediate past-chair.
Stross, founder of Stross Law Firm, P.A. in Oldsmar, Fla., credits his career success to Ferris. He was a 21-year-old veteran of the U.S. Navy who had returned from serving in Vietnam and was ready to pursue an education. But because he failed to apply himself in high school, his grades were sub-par and no college would accept him – except Ferris.
“Ferris gave me a chance to prove myself,” said Stross, a business major when he came to Big Rapids in January 1967. “I got a fantastic education there. My success in life is because of Ferris, and I’m thankful I have the opportunity to give back to the university now. It’s quite an honor.”
Stross transferred from Ferris to Western Michigan University in 1970 to be closer to his parents in Lawton. He obtained a Bachelor of Business Arts (1970) and Master of Business Administration (1971) at Western before earning a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Toledo in 1975.
He has more than 35 years of legal experience in business law, estate planning, real estate and commercial property development.
Stross was appointed to The Ferris Foundation board in 2007.
“I really care about this university,” he said. “It is one of the best institutions in the country, and I mean that. When a student graduates from Ferris, he or she will have marketable skills.”
He views the foundation’s role as key to affording students the opportunity to get an education by providing financial support through scholarships.
“Our No. 1 priority is to raise money to help students get an education,” he said.
The foundation also provides financial support for faculty study, exploration and service.
The board also elected John Hare of Dallas as chair-elect, and Tom Scholler of Clarkston, Mich., as secretary. Hare also will chair the Development Committee, while Scholler will chair the Audit Committee.
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 $40 million.