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Ferris State University: A National Reputation for Excellence
History of Leadership
Woodbridge N. Ferris founded his “industrial school” in 1884 to provide worker retraining
following declines in the lumber and mining industries. Though inspired by the economic conditions
of the day, Mr. Ferris’ philosophy of combining instruction in marketable skills with a liberal arts
education remains just as relevant today, as students prepare to meet the complex changes of the
new millennium. Another of Mr. Ferris’ beliefs — that all willing and able students should have the
opportunity to pursue a higher education — has given many successful individuals the start they
might not otherwise have received.
By its adherence to these principles, today’s Ferris State University has earned a national
reputation for excellence. Recognized as a pioneer in career-oriented education and a leader
in new occupational programming, Ferris is emulated by universities throughout the nation.
Other factors contributing to the educational opportunities available at Ferris include the selection
of faculty on the basis of practical experience as well as academic ability, the special care taken in
the development of curricula, a commitment to providing state-of-the-art equipment for instruction
in technical areas and the use of advisory committees to keep programs in touch with the current
needs of industry. The university’s concept of “laddering” enables students to build from a two-
year to a four-year program according to their careers and personal goals. Students’ campus life is
enriched by a lively schedule of athletic, cultural and recreational events.
Five Decades of Growth
The efficacy of this distinctive educational approach is reflected in the growth of the institution
over the past five decades. When Ferris became a state college in the fall of 1950, it consisted
entirely of one permanent structure, the Alumni Building, and some surplus Army barracks.
Fewer than 1,000 students were enrolled, and there were fewer than 50 faculty members.
The campus itself covered less than 20 acres.
By contrast, current enrollment is more than 14,000 and the 880-acre campus comprises
115 educational, administrative and maintenance buildings, student activity facilities and
residence halls.
Eight Colleges Prepare Students
The university has eight colleges — Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services,
Engineering Technology, Health Professions, the Michigan College of Optometry, Pharmacy and
Kendall College of Art and Design.
College of Arts and Sciences
is noted for its graduates’ high rates of acceptance into
prestigious medical, dental, law and graduate schools. In this college are the cultural programs
and enrichment activities that Ferris offers in the arts and sciences disciplines.
College of Business
provides career-oriented business education. Responsive to the changing
needs of the business world, the college’s curriculum focuses on preparing its graduates for dealing
with real issues as members and leaders of tomorrow’s workforce.
College of Education and Human Services
is a leader in education, criminal justice, recreation
and digital media. The college is unique in Michigan because of its leadership in a number of
partnerships that foster specialized professional education for all its students within the community
and state.
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