Mr. Ferris kept in close touch with his alumni, using them to his best advantage as examples of the success of his school. And as he was developing education programs he also developed continuing interest in the programs of the school among the graduates of the Industrial. In 1891 he chartered the Ferris Cooperative Association, the forerunner of the present Alumni Association.
According to early records, the Ferris Cooperative Association was the work of some of the more earnest students. It grew out of a desire on their part to establish something that would correspond in a measure at least to the alumni organizations of high schools and colleges.
The purpose, as stated in the constitution, was "to weave more closely the bonds of fellowship and love, so natural to pupils of the same school, and to raise its members to a higher plane of usefulness." Requirements for membership were 12 weeks of attendance and $1 dues.
When the present Alumni Association was reorganized in 1955, it too had a $1 membership fee and an understanding that a member should have attended the school for at least one quarter.
Meetings of the Ferris Cooperative Association were held annually in July at the Institute. Programs included a day or two of both intellectual and social diversions. Considerable care was taken to select quality programs, either lectures or concerts. The event closed with an alumni banquet to which friends and students were also invited.
Usually there was some exchange of credentials among the students and the graduates, and many students found jobs via the Cooperative Association. Mr. Ferris was not adverse either to asking the gathered alumni to publicize his school in any way they could, and the enthusiastic alumni did just that, primarily through word of mouth.