Ferris State selects finalist for president

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Bill Pink. Courtesy Ferris State University

A public university named the finalist in its search for its next president.

Ferris State University (FSU) named Bill Pink, president of Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), the finalist to become the university’s 19th president.

The university’s board of trustees will vote on the next president at its meeting on Friday, May 9. Upon confirmation, Pink will begin his tenure in July.

He will succeed President David Eisler who will retire on June 30 after 19 years with Ferris.

“I am honored to be selected by the Ferris State University board,” Pink said. “I have been familiar with the good work of FSU for years, as the partnership we have on our GRCC campus has provided a great pathway from associate to bachelor degree for many years. I will not attempt to fill the shoes of Dr. Eisler and the incredible work he has done for the university, the region and our state. Instead, I’ll wear my own shoes in continuing to move Ferris forward. I am excited about the opportunity.”

Pink began serving as president of Grand Rapids Community College in 2017.

“Today’s news about President Pink’s new role at Ferris State University is bittersweet,” said David Koetje, chair of GRCC board of trustees. “Dr. Pink has been a wonderful leader for our college. His passion and energy are contagious, and he was certainly the right person at the right time for GRCC.”

During Pink’s tenure, Koetje said, GRCC changed in many ways, which includes transformational projects such as the GRCC Lakeshore Campus development.

“His students-first approach during the pandemic ensured West Michigan residents were able to continue their education and emerge stronger,” he said. “Dr. Pink was able to build on a solid foundation created by his predecessors, and he leaves GRCC in a strong position to continue moving forward.”

Pink was selected as the finalist for president following a search process that began in 2021. The search was guided by a 25-member search advisory committee, which included the board of trustees and members of the administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members.

Executive search firm WittKieffer assisted the trustees and the search advisory committee before the trustees made the final decision.

“I was so impressed with the energy, enthusiasm and innovative ideas that Bill Pink brought to his interview and what he could bring to the presidency at Ferris State University,” said George Heartwell, FSU trustee and former mayor of Grand Rapids. “I saw what he did at GRCC and admired his efforts. I knew Bill as a community member who took his responsibility as a citizen and leader very seriously. I am also impressed with Dr. Pink’s commitment to economic and environmental sustainability while maintaining a laser focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Pink currently serves on the executive committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the board of trustees of the Higher Learning Commission. He also serves on the boards of the American Council on Education, Spectrum Health West Michigan, Heart of West Michigan United Way, the Economic Club of Grand Rapids and the American Association of Community Colleges. Pink is vice chair of The Right Place and will become chair in 2024.

Pink received his Bachelor of Science in physical education and professional education from Oklahoma Christian University. He also holds a Master of Education in physical education and secondary education from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oklahoma in instructional leadership and academic curriculum.

“Ferris has been impacting our state for over 135 years and will continue to do amazing things for our communities and the people who live here,” Pink said. “I am honored to be selected to continue that work. We have a big job to do in higher education across our state and nation in helping our communities dig out of the pandemic’s effects. Ferris needs to be right in the middle of that work, and I look forward to leading the effort.”

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