People: Interim President Michael R. Ferrari
Michael R. Ferrari (1940- )
Upon the unexpected death of the Bowling Green State University’s seventh President, Hollis Moore in April 1981, Dr. Michael Ferrari, Provost and Executive Vice President stepped in to provide the university with a sense of continuity during troubled times. Having served for several months as Acting President during Moore’s illness, Ferrari was officially named Interim President by the Board of Trustees on May 8, 1981. Their confidence in him was founded on Ferrari's ten years of administrative experience at BGSU.
Ferrari first arrived at BGSU as Coordinator of Planning, Budgeting and Institutional Studies in 1971, making him responsible for the efficient use of the university's physical
and financial resources. Appointed Acting Provost the following year, he served there until 1973, when he became the first Vice President of Resource Planning, with the goal of improving administrative efficiency. Becoming Provost in January of 1978, Ferrari's skills were well-suited to meeting the challenges presented by the economic recession of the late 1970’s. Despite budget cuts that were among the worst in the university's history, Ferrari oversaw the development of the J. Preston Levis Regional Computer Center. A cooperative effort with other northwest Ohio state universities, the City of Toledo and other public institutions, this center enabled BGSU to access up-to-date computing technology that would have been far too expensive for individual purchase. Today this site is the location of the Northwest Ohio Regional Book Depository used by cooperating university libraries for low-use materials storage.
When President Moore entered the Medical College of Ohio for the treatment of an infection in late February 1981, doctors discovered a brain tumor of "low malignancy." To keep the university running smoothly, the Board of Trustees established the Provost/Executive Vice-President as the chief administrator in the absence of the president. However, Moore's death on April 21 meant that the University needed a permanent leader. Because the search for a university president is a lengthy process, the Board formally recognized Ferrari as Interim President on May 8. He soon outlined his agenda for the coming year, which included planning for the University’s 75th anniversary celebration in 1985, a calendar conversion from quarters to semesters, and maintaining the morale of faculty and staff during the transition period.
Foremost on his agenda, though, was dealing with the continuing budget crisis. Programs were reorganized and consolidated, reducing administrative costs and greater efficiency was encouraged in all program areas. Although tuition rose, students and faculty alike remained optimistic thanks to Ferrari's leadership. Omicron Delta Kappa recognized him as Faculty Member of the Year (1981), an especially meaningful award because it came from the students.
The Board of Trustees officially named Paul J. Olscamp as the University's eighth president on April 9, 1982. In January 1983, the University community came together to honor Ferrari's leadership. The Michael R. Ferrari Award was established by a committee representing trustees, faculty, students and members of the classified staff. This annual award is given to a contracted employee who goes “…above and beyond the call of duty in his [or her] job performance.”
After returning to faculty status, Ferrari left BGSU in 1983 to become Provost at Wright State University. Later, he became President of Drake University (1985-1997), and then Chancellor at Texas Christian University (1997-2003). On his retirement, TCU established its own Michael R. Ferrari Award. The selection criteria for this award are very similar to the one at BGSU, evidence of Ferrari's continuing leadership and influence wherever his professional career took him.
Michael Ferrari received his education at Michigan State University, holding bachelor's and master's degrees in sociology and a doctorate in business administration. He taught management and served as chair of the Management Department at Kent State University prior to coming to Bowling Green.