University Increases Campaign Goal from $80 Million to $115 Million

Ferris State University President David EislerWith seven months remaining in its first-ever, comprehensive fundraising campaign, Ferris State University has achieved 97 percent of its fundraising goal with nearly $78 million raised by Ferris alumni, faculty and staff, friends, and corporations and foundations.

Publicly launched in November 2017, the Now & Always comprehensive campaign set a goal of $80 million to be raised by June 30, 2019. The campaign supports three broad university priorities: investing in students; program expansion and innovation; and building partnerships.

At the 20th annual Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit Friday evening, Nov. 2, in Grand Rapids to honor many of those who have been central to the campaign’s success, Shelly Pearcy, vice president for University Advancement and Marketing, announced that the campaign goal will be increased to $115 million and the timeframe extended through June 30, 2022.

Pearcy told the Ferris Foundation Board of Directors and 650 supporters and guests gathered at the DeVos Place Convention Center that extending the campaign will accelerate its extraordinary progress and intensify the enthusiasm so many donors and alumni have for its impact on the university and students.

Ferris President David Eisler shared similar sentiments, noting that, “The response to the campaign has been both humbling and momentous. What we do here at Ferris is focused on our students – the opportunities we provide and the dreams they can achieve. Extending the campaign and increasing the goal will enable the university to attract even more gifts for scholarships – the first priority of the campaign. There has never been a better time than now to help us transform students’ lives.”

Since the inception of the Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge dollar-for-dollar matching gift program, in 2016, The Ferris Foundation has raised more than $5.67 million – $11 million-plus with the match – in gift commitments toward new and existing scholarship endowments.  More than 130 new scholarship endowments have been created.

Eisler continued, “The campaign helps Ferris State University fulfill its educational mission – to provide faculty with the resources they need to build and deliver great academic programs. Our combined efforts build great futures for students who are prepared for success both in life and their chosen careers.”

Pearcy extended her appreciation to members of the Now & Always campaign cabinet in attendance, including Gary Granger, of Byron Center (co-chair); Philip Hagerman, of Flint; Jim Klett of Lawrence; Dick Shaw, of Grand Rapids; Ken Theis, of St. Johns; and  faculty emeritus Bob Friar, of Big Rapids.  Other members include Paul Boyer, of Ada; Douglas Dommert, of Kalamazoo; Stephanie Leonardos, of Ada; Joseph Moreau, of Livonia; Dennis Nickels, of Grand Haven; Vivian Rogers Pickard, of Bloomfield Hills; Marge Potter, of Grand Rapids;  Jeff Rowe, of Flushing (co-chair); and faculty emeritus Robert Carter, of Big Rapids.

The most visible results of the campaign thus far are the completion of a major expansion and renovation of the Swan Annex and the construction of the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center at Katke Golf Course on the Big Rapids campus.

This fall, the upgraded and expanded Swan Annex welcomed students in Ferris’ Welding Technology and Manufacturing Engineering Technology programs and will allow for substantial growth in those programs. Fundraising is still underway, with $1.9 million left to raise to meet the project goal.

The Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center is being constructed and is expected to open in early 2019. The year-round practice and educational center will feature the latest technology for PGA Golf Management students and guests and will serve as the new home of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.  There are naming opportunities still available for interested donors.

Pearcy said a goal of the extended campaign is to begin a second major phase of fundraising for Ferris’ College of Pharmacy.  This extensive initiative is on the heels of the first Pharmacy campaign which raised $11.7 million, exceeding its $9.4 million goal. The second phase of fundraising will allow for additional renovations to the Hagerman Pharmacy Building, increase research and program development opportunities for faculty, and make scholarships available to every Pharmacy student.

Pushing this significant leap forward, Pearcy said, is a $6.2 million gift, the largest in Ferris history, from the estate of pharmacy alumnus Dewaine Robinson and his wife, Jana.

“A community pharmacist, business owner and advocate for many Bulldog pharmacists in the Flint area, Dewaine Robinson’s Ferris legacy and generosity truly embody what Ferris is all about – industry and opportunity,” Pearcy said.

Another new fundraising initiative that has emerged since the campaign began is the construction of a new on-campus research, archives and educational facility, allowing for the expansion of the internationally-acclaimed Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.

Led by its founder and Ferris’ Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion David Pilgrim, the JCM has outgrown its space in the lower level of FLITE Library. The new facility will provide more substantial space to present, preserve and archive thousands of existing and future objects, artwork and other materials used to teach tolerance and promote social justice.

Two other campaign initiatives will build on current centers of excellence at Ferris, including the Institute for Construction Education and Training and the Center for Athletics Performance.

Campaign Co-Chair Gary Granger said, through the Institute for Construction Education and Training, Ferris is recognized as the primary training and certification partner for hot mix asphalt, soil density and aggregate and materials testing by the state of Michigan and Michigan Department of Transportation. With significant leadership and financial support from multiple industry partners, Ferris intends to replace and expand the existing lab and instructional space.

Granger said a priority that remains from the first part of the campaign is to meet the fundraising goal for the expansion and renovation of Ferris’ Ewigleben Sports Complex, creating a new Center for Athletics Performance. The university is almost halfway toward its goal. The facility will include a new, larger weight room and additional locker rooms, team meeting spaces and coaches’ offices. The addition also will include the reconfiguration of the volleyball arena so the university can host NCAA tournaments.

Keynote speaker Tim Murphy, former deputy director of the FBI and Ferris Foundation Board Director, brought the evening to an inspiring close with his story about how Ferris changed his life and made him the leader in global law enforcement, intelligence and business that he is today.

Eisler presented Murphy with Ferris’ first-ever “Lead Where You Stand” award in recognition of his achievements, the example he sets for Ferris students, and for his continuing engagement and generous support of the University.

Click Now & Always to learn about the campaign.


PHOTO CAPTION: At the 20th annual Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit on Friday evening, Nov. 2, in Grand Rapids, it was announced that the Now & Always campaign goal will be increased to $115 million and the timeframe extended through June 30, 2022. Shown in this photo is Ferris State University President David Eisler speaking to the crowd of more than 700 in attendance at DeVos Place.