Ferris State University
| Ferris State University |
Ferris State University (FSU or Ferris) is a public university with its main campus in Big Rapids, Michigan. It was founded in 1884 as the Big Rapids Industrial School by Woodbridge Nathan Ferris, an educator from Tioga County, New York, who later served as governor of the State of Michigan and finally in the US Senate where he remained until his death in 1928. From its foundation, the school accepted female students beginning with its first graduating class.
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.
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.
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. Six years later 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. But before the state took control, 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.
In November 1987 the institution became Ferris State University. 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; there were fewer than 50 faculty members, and the campus itself covered less than 20 acres (8.1 ha). By contrast, current enrollment is more than 14,000, and the 880-acre (360 ha) campus contains 115 buildings, including educational, administrative, maintenance, student activity and residence hall facilities.
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