Kendall Presidents: Hail and Farewell

Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design held a dual celebration in May when the doors opened to its $31 million renovation of the old Federal Building. In addition to taking tours of the former courthouse and post office, guests welcomed Kendall’s new president and said goodbye to its current chief.

Retiring after 18 years, Kendall’s President Dr. Oliver Evans, on the left (above photo), introduced his successor, Dr. David Rosen, on the right with Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell in between.  Under President Evans’ leadership, in 2001 Kendall joined forces with Ferris expanding the art school to 1400 students and multiplying its offerings. New this fall, for example, will be a course on medical illustration.

The Federal Building’s last tenant before Kendall was the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Having outgrown its Fulton Street facility, in 1981, GRAM moved into the then vacant Federal Building. By 2000, GRAM again needed to move and Peter Wege spearheaded a drive to build the art museum in 2007.   As with his GRAM vision to be the world’s first green museum, Wege’s gift to Kendall reflects his commitment to economicology and LEED certification.

The new cornerstone of Kendall’s environmental education is the Wege Center for Sustainable Design where students will learn the whole-systems approach to sustainability in art and design.

Kendall’s incoming president Dr. David Rosen came to Grand Rapids from California where he was Senior Vice President of Woodbury University, a private college specializing in the arts and architecture.

Under Rosen’s leadership, the National Education Trust named Woodbury the nation’s best small masters university in advancing Hispanic, low-income, and minority students. Dr. Rosen also directs plays and writes rock music.

Pictured in the Wege Center for Sustainable Design at Kendall are tour guide Shana Curtis and Ellen Satterlee, CEO of The Wege Foundation.
Pictured here is the original judge’s desk and stand from the 1911 opening of the U.S. District Court for the Western District. The courthouse building by architect James Knox also served as a U.S. post office.