Street Talk: Scholarships for all


Ferris State University has extended its Now & Always campaign goal by $35 million over an additional three years.

The campaign’s new goal is to raise $115 million through June 30, 2022.

Publicly launched in November 2017, FSU’s first-ever comprehensive campaign had raised $78 million of the original $80-million goal and still had seven months to go when the extension was announced earlier this month.

“The response to the campaign has been both humbling and momentous,” FSU President David Eisler said.

“Extending the campaign and increasing the goal will enable the university to attract even more gifts for scholarships — the first priority of the campaign.”

The extended campaign will allow for several additional projects.

Additional renovations are planned for the pharmacy program, including building expansion, increased research and program development opportunities for faculty, and scholarships for every student.

There are plans for the construction of a new campus research, archives and educational facility, allowing the expansion of the educational Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, which has outgrown its space in the lower level of the library.

The new facility will provide more substantial space to present, preserve and archive thousands of existing and future objects, artwork and other materials.

The Institute for Construction Education and Training will have expanded labs and instructional spaces.

The school’s Ewigleben Sports Complex also will be expanded and renovated, creating a new Center for Athletics Performance. The facility will include a new, larger weight room and additional locker rooms, team meeting spaces and coaches’ offices. The project also will include reconfiguration of the volleyball arena so the university can host NCAA tournaments.

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, both on the Big Rapids campus.

Pop-in banking

MSU Federal Credit Union is setting up shop at RiverTown Crossings mall this month.

The East Lansing-based credit union, which opened a downtown Grand Rapids branch last fall, said it is running a pop-up shop that will be open at the mall, at 3700 Rivertown Pkwy. in Grandville, until Nov. 29.

The pop-up shop is located on the lower level of the mall, next to Coach and across from Eddie Bauer, near the Kohl’s department store wing, according to Katie Searl, PR strategist with MSUFCU.

MSUFCU members and the general public can visit the space to learn about the institution’s products and services, mobile apps and online banking, and take advantage of special offers on mortgages and certificates.

“We are excited to host a pop-up shop location in Grand Rapids,” said Deidre Davis, MCUFCU’s chief marketing officer. “The pop-up shop provides us with an opportunity to introduce residents and visitors of the greater Grand Rapids area to MSUFCU and to show the Grand Rapids community all the ways MSUFCU helps members achieve their dreams.”

Using iPads, visitors can learn about ComputerLine online banking, the MSUFCU mobile app and the Financial 4.0 personal finance app. Information about budgeting, credit education, home buying, identity theft, membership benefits and youth accounts also will be available.

The MSUFCU booth will offer activities to keep kids occupied while parents linger, including coloring masks of MSU’s mascot, Sparty, and Oakland University’s mascot Grizz, a photo booth with holiday props and four youth-oriented gaming apps for Android and iOS — Dream Racer, Saving Draggy, Saving Magic and Saving with Piggy.

Founded in 1937, MSUFCU has 18 branches with more than 265,000 members, $4.1 billion in assets and about 900 employees.

Party poopers

This year, 65 percent of companies plan to hold a holiday party, the lowest number since 2009, when 62 percent of companies held holiday festivities, according to survey results from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

According to the annual survey on holiday party plans, conducted in October among 150 human resources representatives across the country, nearly 27 percent of companies reported they never hold company parties, the highest since Challenger began the survey in 2004. Nearly 8 percent reported they are not holding a party this year for various reasons.

This is the highest number of companies reporting they will not have a party since 2009 when 38 percent reported they would not hold year-end celebrations. In that year, 15 percent of companies said they never have holiday parties and 23 percent reported they were not having one that year.

“The low number of corporate celebrations does not appear to be due to economic reasons. Companies are sitting on tax savings and generally report a thriving economy,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of the firm.

In the survey, companies reported higher confidence in the economy than last year. Sixty-two percent of companies said the economy has improved over last year. That’s compared to 48 percent that reported improvement in 2017. Nearly 29 percent reported the economy is on par with last year.

“We have never seen so many companies report that they never have holiday parties. The number could be due to several factors, including potential liability following the #MeToo movement,” he added.

In fact, of those companies that are having a party this year, nearly 58 percent reported they have addressed the #MeToo movement with their staff this year, 33 percent of which have addressed or will address this issue prior to the party.

“Other reasons for fewer holiday parties could include that a company's workforce is primarily remote and it's too difficult to gather for a holiday party, or perhaps, companies are having parties at other times of the year. However, the fact that nearly 60 percent of companies that are having parties have real concerns about inappropriate behavior shows that HR departments nationwide are responding to this particular issue,” Challenger said.

"In some cases, that response may mean eliminating the holiday party," he added.

Despite the low number of company parties, those that are holding holiday festivities plan to spend more. Nearly a quarter of companies plan to increase the budget for the party, the highest since 2007 when 38 percent planned to budget more than the previous year. No companies planned to budget less than the previous year, the lowest number on record.

“The cost savings associated with corporate tax cuts may be used toward the party budget this year,” Challenger said.

More companies plan to hold the party on company premises, with 39 percent this year versus 34 percent last year. About the same number of companies plan to serve alcohol as last year, 48.5 percent. This is slightly below the average of 51 percent of companies that serve alcohol since Challenger began asking the question in 2005.

“The impact of #MeToo has been overwhelmingly positive, and it's clear the movement is spurring companies to enact important policies to protect workers — a huge boon to the business community,” Challenger said.

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