Ferris State University
Former names
Big Rapids Industrial School (1884–1885)
Ferris Industrial School (1885–1898)
Ferris Institute (1898–1963)
Ferris State College (1963–1987)
MottoFerris Forward[1]
TypePublic university
EstablishedSeptember 1, 1884; 139 years ago (1884-09-01)
Endowment$117 million (2021)[2]
PresidentBill Pink
ProvostRobert P. Fleischman
Academic staff
Students10,361 (Fall 2021)[4]
Location, ,
United States

43°41′51″N 85°29′02″W / 43.69739°N 85.4839°W / 43.69739; -85.4839
CampusMain campus: Rural, 880 acres (360 ha)
Grand Rapids: urban[3]
NewspaperThe Ferris State Torch
ColorsCrimson and Gold[5]
Sporting affiliations
   Division II: GLIAC
   Division I: CCHA
MascotBrutus the Bulldog[7]

Ferris State University (FSU or Ferris) is a public university with its main campus in Big Rapids, Michigan. It was founded in 1884 as Big Rapids Industrial School by Woodbridge N. Ferris and became a public institution in 1950. The university also has a satellite campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ferris is classified among "D/PU: Doctoral Universities – Doctoral/Professional Universities".[8] Over 10,000 students study on its main campus, at one of the 19 off-campus locations across the state,[9] or online. Two- and four-year degrees are offered through eight academic colleges and graduate degrees from six. Ferris grants professional doctoral degrees via its engineering, business, optometry and pharmacy colleges and a multidisciplinary doctorate of education in community college leadership.

The Ferris State Bulldogs compete in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in all sports except men's ice hockey, in which the team is part of the NCAA Division I Central Collegiate Hockey Association.


Woodbridge N. Ferris, founder and namesake of the university

Big Rapids Industrial School, as it was originally named, opened on September 1, 1884, in temporary quarters in the Vandersluis Block (present location of J.C. Penney Co.) in Big Rapids. The goal of the school was to provide students with marketable skills for a changing society. By the beginning of the next semester in January 1885, the school changed its name to Ferris Industrial School. In January 1894, the school moved into and dedicated its new building, Old Main, on the corner of Oak and Ives Streets. At this same time, the school was incorporated with capital stock of $50,000.[10]

In 1898, the institution was again renamed to Ferris Institute. In 1900, W. N. Ferris sold capital stock in Ferris Institute to the public, keeping a controlling interest in his own hands. It remained privately owned until August 25, 1931, when the Board of Incorporators, a group of 39 businessmen, purchased Ferris Institute from the old stockholders and selected a board of trustees from their number to govern the school.[10]

In February 1943, alumnus Colin Smith introduced a bill in the legislature for the state to purchase Ferris Institute. It passed both houses, but was vetoed by Governor Harry Kelly. On May 17, 1949, Governor G. Mennen Williams signed the bill accepting Ferris Institute as a gift to the state of Michigan, which took over its governance on July 1, 1950. Before the state took control, though, fire destroyed the Old Main and the Old Pharmacy buildings on February 21, 1950. Only the Alumni Building and some minor buildings were left standing. Immediate rebuilding of the institute began, and on July 1, 1963, it was again renamed, this time as Ferris State College.[10]

Previous logo

In November 1987, the institution became Ferris State University.[10] When Ferris became a state college in the fall of 1950, it had consisted entirely of one permanent structure, the Alumni Building, and some surplus Army barracks. At that time, fewer than 1,000 students were enrolled, with fewer than 50 faculty members, and the campus itself covered less than 20 acres (8.1 ha). By contrast, current enrollment is more than 10,000, and the 880-acre (360 ha) campus contains 115 buildings, including educational, administrative, maintenance, student-activity, and residence-hall facilities.


Ferris State University is considered "less selective" by U.S. News & World Report.[11] For the class of 2025 (enrolling fall 2021), Ferris State University received 10,480 applications and accepted 8,884 (84.8%), with 1,405 enrolling. The middle 50% range of SAT scores for enrolling freshmen was 910–1050. The middle 50% ACT composite score range was 19–26.


Fall First-Time Freshman Statistics [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Applicants 10,480 8,581 9,175 10,284 9,926 10,883
Admits 8,884 7,076 7,949 8,320 7,361 8,455
Admit rate 84.8 82.5 86.6 80.9 74.2 77.7
Enrolled 1,405 1,540 1,892 1,882 1,822 1,830
Yield rate 15.8 21.8 23.8 22.6 24.8 21.6
ACT composite*
(out of 36)
19-26 18-26 18-25 19-26 19-25 19-25
SAT composite*
(out of 1600)
910-1050 1050-1110 980-1090 940-1170
* middle 50% range

Academic colleges

College of Business building
Carillon Tower and Music Center

The university has eight colleges offering more than 170 educational programs—Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services, Engineering Technology, Health Professions, the Kendall College of Art and Design, Michigan College of Optometry, and Pharmacy. Program offerings lead to bachelor's and associate degrees and certificates. Master's degrees in information security and intelligence, career and technical education, criminal justice, business administration, curriculum and instruction, nursing, and fine arts are available. Ferris also offers doctoral degrees in optometry, pharmacy, nursing practice, and community college leadership.

Kendall College of Art and Design offers graduate and undergraduate fine arts degrees, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in art history. Kendall's campus is in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Michigan College of Optometry is one of 16 schools or colleges of optometry in the United States and the only college of optometry in Michigan. MCO doctors and student interns deliver eye care to patients in the region. Graduates receive a Doctor of Optometry degree.

The College of Pharmacy graduates comprise more than half of Michigan's practicing pharmacists. Graduates receive a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

Ferris State's most popular undergraduate majors, by 2021 graduates, were:[18]

Criminal Justice/Police Science (253)
Business Administration and Management (211)
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse (139)
Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics, and Special Effects (80)
Biology/Biological Sciences (76)
General Studies (63)
Mechanical/Mechanical Engineering Technology/Technician (55)

Honors Program

The Honors Program includes students from every college and school at Ferris except Kendall—students from almost every major participate in the Honors Program. About a third of the Honors students major in pre-pharmacy or similar disciplines, but a large number of students are in the College of Business, College of Health Professions, and College of Engineering Technology. Honors students live in specialized residence halls (mostly in single rooms), take enhanced general education courses, attend cultural events, and complete 15 hours of community service per semester.

Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[20]304
Washington Monthly[21]174
WSJ/College Pulse[22]492


Ferris State University joined the state's higher education system in 1950. The campus was all but destroyed by fire the same year. The only building to survive was the Alumni Building, built in 1929, at the north edge of campus. Since the fire, more than 117 buildings have been built on the main campus.

Main campus

Ferris Library for Information, Technology and Education (FLITE)
Timme Center for Student Services
Interdisciplinary Resource Center

Located on the southern edge of the City of Big Rapids, straddling the border between Big Rapids Township and the city, the university has over 880 acres (3.6 km2) for its main campus. The campus begins about four blocks south of the historic central business district. It is bordered on the north by single-family homes built in the early to middle of the twentieth century. North of Perry Street, the university is bordered by strip commercial development. The university is bordered to the south and west by Big Rapids Township. The township is mostly undeveloped and rural.[25]

The main campus is within easy walking distance of downtown Big Rapids with its restaurants, shops, movie theater, art gallery and municipal park. Bicyclists, hikers and in-line skaters have easy access to the White Pine Trail, Michigan's longest "rails to trails" project.[26]

The campus has undergone major changes since 1990. Several new and renovated buildings, reworked roads and parking areas, pedestrian walkways, and greenspace areas have contributed to the changes on campus.

The university has 3,483,298 square feet (323,609.0 m2) of building space on the Big Rapids campus, with 1,764,658 square feet (163,942.1 m2) in academic use.[25]

Satellite and online locations

In addition to the main campus, Ferris State University has programs offered at 19 off-campus locations including Dowagiac, Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing, Traverse City, and University Center. Although the main campus of the university is located in a rural setting the satellite locations are all located in larger, more urban communities. Some programs, such as the Doctor of Pharmacy program, are split between locations having students take the first 2 years of study at a campus in one city and the next 2 years at another.[28] These locations are managed by the division of Extended and International Operations under the heading Ferris Statewide and Online.[9]


Administrative structure

Ferris State University is governed by a board of trustees which has general supervision of the institution and controls and directs institutional expenditures. Members of the Board serve eight-year, staggered terms as appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate.[29]

The president of the university is appointed by the board of trustees as its principal executive officer and serves at its pleasure. The president is an ex-officio member of the board without the right to vote.

Current leadership

At present, the university is led by its 19th president, Bill Pink, who was inaugurated on June 30, 2022.

Student government

The mission of the Student Government of Ferris State University is to represent student interests in all aspects of campus life as well as maintain open channels of communication between students, faculty, staff, administration, and the Big Rapids community.[30]

The General Assembly of Student Government is composed of two voting bodies; a House of Representatives and a Senate. Each registered student organization (RSO) in good standing is eligible to hold one seat on the House of Representatives. Senators are elected by the students in their respective academic colleges.[31]

The leadership rests in the Cabinet; president, executive vice president, treasurer, director of finance, and director of internal assessment.[31]


Main article: Ferris State Bulldogs

The Ferris State Bulldogs are the athletic teams for the university. Ferris State offers an intercollegiate athletic program that includes 14 men's and women's sports at the NCAA Division II level, except for men's ice hockey which competes in NCAA Division I. Ferris State is a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) in all sports except men's ice hockey, in which the team is part of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Year in and year out, nearly 400 student-athletes have the opportunity to compete for the Bulldogs on a regional and national level for conference titles and NCAA Championships. Ferris' men's club ice hockey won the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II national title in 1994. In March 2018, the men's basketball team won the NCAA Division II national championship. The football team won back-to-back NCAA Division II national championships in December 2021 and December 2022.


Top Taggart Field, Ferris State's football stadium
Men's Sports Women's Sports
Basketball Basketball
Cross Country Cross Country
Golf Golf
Ice Hockey
Tennis Tennis
Track and field Track and field

Student life

Vandercook Hall

Enrollment decline

Ferris State has seen a dramatic drop in enrollment in recent years. In 2013 total enrollment was 14,707.[32] In 2021 total enrollment had dropped to 10,361.[4] Similarly, Big Rapids City population dropped by more than 27% between 2010 and 2020.[33]

Ferris State Torch

The Ferris State Torch is a student run newspaper first published in 1931. It is a weekly publication between 16 and 28 pages in length with a circulation of just under 5,000. The Torch has been completely student governed, with the exception of a faculty adviser and business manager. The Department of Languages and Literature acts as a liaison between the publication and the rest of the university.

Greek life

There are 27 Greek organizations on campus, subdivided into four different groups: Interfraternity Council fraternities, Black Greek Council Fraternities & Sororities, Panhellenic Council Sororities, and Professional Fraternities & Sororities.

Organizations in the Interfraternity Council include: Alpha Chi Rho, Delta Chi, Kappa Psi, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Sigma Kappa, Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Lambda Phi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and Sigma Pi. Black Greek Council fraternities and sororities on campus are: Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, Phi Delta Psi, and Zeta Phi Beta. Panhellenic Council member organizations are: Alpha Sigma Tau, Alpha Xi Delta, Delta Zeta, Phi Sigma Sigma and Zeta Tau Alpha, and honorary member Lambda Kappa Sigma. The profession fraternities and sororities include: Delta Sigma Pi, Gamma Epsilon Tau, Kappa Psi, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, Lambda Kappa Sigma, Phi Alpha Delta, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Alpha Theta, and Alpha Psi Omega. Organizations in the United Greek Council are Sigma Lambda Beta and Sigma Lambda Gamma

School songs

Fight song

The first performance of the new fight song, "Fighting Bulldogs" was at Homecoming in 1958.[34]

Alma mater

The adoption of the new Ferris alma mater song, "Ferris Fidelity" and its first performance under direction of composer Graham T. Overgard were at the Christmas concert in 1957.[34]

Notable alumni

See also



  1. ^ https://www.ferris.edu/administration/advance/standards/written_communications.htm
  2. ^ As of FY 2021. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2021 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY20 to FY21 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Ferris Factbook" (PDF). Ferris State University Institutional Research. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Fall 2021 FSU Enrollment Summary: Fall 4th Day Extract" (PDF). September 2, 2021.
  5. ^ "Color - Ferris State University". Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  6. ^ "Why are we the Bulldogs?". Ferris State University. Archived from the original on January 15, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  7. ^ "Mascot Program". Ferris State University. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Ferris State University". Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  9. ^ a b "Ferris Statewide". Ferris State University. Archived from the original on December 28, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d "Ferris State University Historical Timeline". Ferris State University Alumni Office. Archived from the original on January 16, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  11. ^ "Ferris State University". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  12. ^ "FSU Common Data Set 2021-2022" (PDF). FSU Institutional Research. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  13. ^ "FSU Common Data Set 2020-2021" (PDF). FSU Institutional Research. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  14. ^ "FSU Common Data Set 2019-2020" (PDF). FSU Institutional Research. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  15. ^ "FSU Common Data Set 2018-2019" (PDF). FSU Institutional Research. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  16. ^ "FSU Common Data Set 2017-2018" (PDF). FSU Institutional Research. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  17. ^ "FSU Common Data Set 2016-2017" (PDF). FSU Institutional Research. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  18. ^ "Ferris State University". nces.ed.gov. U.S. Dept of Education. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  19. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2023". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  20. ^ "2023-2024 Best National Universities". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  21. ^ "2023 National University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  22. ^ "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  23. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2025: Top global universities". Quacquarelli Symonds. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  24. ^ "World University Rankings 2024". Times Higher Education. Retrieved September 27, 2023.
  25. ^ a b "2009 Master Plan" (PDF). Ferris State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 31, 2010. Retrieved April 17, 2009.
  26. ^ "WMTGC Fall 2009 Newsletter" (PDF). West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 19, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  27. ^ "Granger Center for Construction and HVACR". Ferris State University. Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2009.
  28. ^ http://www.ferris.edu/michigan-college-of-pharmacy-doctorate-degrees-programs.htmM[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "Trustees". Ferris State University. Archived from the original on September 28, 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2009.
  30. ^ "Student Government". Ferris State University Student Government. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  31. ^ a b "Student Government Constitution" (PDF). Ferris State University Student Government. Retrieved January 24, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  32. ^ "Ferris Announces More Than 14,000 Students Enrolled this Fall". www.ferris.edu. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
  33. ^ "Decennial Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
  34. ^ a b "History of Music at Ferris". Ferris State University. Retrieved January 21, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  35. ^ VanOchten, Brian (January 18, 2011). "Ex-Creston star Carlton Brewster signs with Chicago Rush of Arena Football League". The Grand Rapids Press. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  36. ^ "Exclusive Interview with The Alpha Male". Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. June 18, 2004. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2007.
  37. ^ a b c d e "Notable Ferris Alums". Ferris State Torch. Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan. September 30, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  38. ^ "John D. Gruden". Legends of Hockey. Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  39. ^ Staff. "Butch Jones Making His Mark in Division I Football". Alumni Success Stories. Ferris State University. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  40. ^ Staff (2008). "Dave Karpa". hockeyDB.com. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  41. ^ "MLB Umpire Bios". MLB.com. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  42. ^ "Software professional turns comedian". The Times of India. September 18, 2018. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  43. ^ "Chris Kunitz among Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalists" (Press release). Ferris State University. Archived from the original on February 7, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  44. ^ Staff. "Profile". Official Website. Stacy Erwin Oakes. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  45. ^ Staff (2008). "Andy Roach". hockeyDB.com. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  46. ^ Staff. "Gary Waters, Basketball, 1972–89". Ferris State University Bulldog Hall of Fame. Ferris State University. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2007.