Ferris State University – President

Ferris State University (Ferris) seeks a transparent, community-minded and visionary leader to join its campus community as its next president.

Ferris is a mid-sized four-year public university offering more than 180 academic programs with degrees ranging from associate to doctoral across seven academic colleges. Founded in 1884 by Woodbridge and Helen Ferris, Ferris has remained committed to preparing students with the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to make an impact in their professions, communities and our world right away. The 1,500 faculty and staff at Ferris are industry professionals and career practitioners recognized for their scholarship, expertise and unmatched dedication to students. Ferris’ academic programs are innovative, comprehensive, and in many cases, ranked amongst the best in the world.

Ferris currently serves more than 10,000 students, providing access to opportunities through an energetic traditional, residential experience at the university’s main campus in Big Rapids, a vibrant urban experience at the campus of Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, and a personal focus at its nearly two dozen statewide locations, online learning and partnerships with community colleges and career technical centers. Ferris has established itself as the premier collaborative partner of Michigan’s community colleges, creating articulation agreements with multiple campuses and expanding its online offerings to allow students to complete coursework at their local community colleges toward a Ferris degree. As a result, Ferris has evolved into a leading transfer option for students ready to move onward and upward in Michigan.

Like many of its peer institutions, Ferris has experienced recent enrollment challenges related to a decline in high school graduates, competition from other state institutions and the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the incoming president should lead the campus in the development of a strategic enrollment plan that considers future market demands and leverages the university’s strengths. Furthermore, Ferris will benefit from a president who facilitates discourse among its many constituents about the campus’ identity, and develops clear, concise and consistent talking points that bring to life its future purpose and impact, with particular emphasis on areas of distinction. The incoming president should be a compelling student advocate and develop initiatives that provide students with support for both academic success and the basic needs required to thrive and prosper. A commitment to support, nurture and champion a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community while ensuring strength in local town and gown relations will be important. Strong capacities for fundraising and building industry partnerships are also expected, along with the ability to create a strong, stable and transparent budget model that will increase and diversify revenue. 

Reporting to the Board of Trustees, the next president should be a bold visionary and strong collaborator with extensive experience working in a shared governance structure and the ability to work in a unionized environment. The president will be an accomplished leader and administrator with the experience required to move an organization of Ferris’ size and complexity forward successfully. With more than 180,000 alumni and countless partnerships, the incoming president must also be a visible, consummate relationship builder and community-minded connector ready to foster productive relationships that will move Ferris forward locally, regionally, nationally and globally.

A detailed leadership profile is available at this link.

All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in the profile. WittKieffer is assisting Ferris State University in this search. For fullest consideration, application materials should be received by Wednesday, January 12, 2022. Application materials should be submitted using WittKieffer’s candidate portal.

Nominations and inquiries can be directed to:

Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D., Ryan Crawford and Julia Bradley at FerrisStatePresident@wittkieffer.com

Ferris State University is an equal opportunity institution. For information on the University’s Policy on Non-Discrimination, visit ferris.edu/non-discrimination.

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