Dining Services Fund Example of Living Motto

Mike Ferguson

Director of Dining Services Mike Ferguson ’81 (right) marches with students in the Centennial Parade.

The Dining Services Auxiliary Fund originated in 2004 as part of The Campaign for Ferrum College. The fund was created by dining services staff who wanted to directly assist students with the cost of textbooks under the direction of Jeff Gring, associate vice president for operations. In the inaugural year, 100 percent of the staff in Gring’s department contributed to the fund, and to this day it maintains a strong giving percentage with gifts from faculty as well as staff. Nowadays, Mike Ferguson ’81, director of dining services, is responsible for the administration of the fund. Ferguson’s story is one that is familiar to many Ferrum graduates, a story that led him to both work at his alma mater and participate in a program that supports students who may be struggling in their pursuit of an education.

Ferguson grew up in Ferrum, in a family of 10 children, and never planned to go to college because of the cost to his family. Instead, his hope was to find a job following high school; he was successful in that effort, securing a job in a furniture factory. “I hated every day that I set foot in that place,” says Ferguson. After struggling with that job for three years, he skipped work one afternoon and came to Ferrum to apply for classes. As it was already late summer, he was told he would not be eligible for admission until the spring semester. “I was so upset that I just didn’t know which way to turn,” he recalls. “So, I went back to the furniture factory and worked harder than ever, in an attempt to drown my sorrows.” Three weeks later he received an acceptance letter from Ferrum. “This is what drew me to the place that I am now proud to be a part of today,” Ferguson says.  He credits the compassion of the staff and their work with students and families to enable students to attend Ferrum despite difficult circumstances. He believes that the College’s motto, “Not Self, But Others” was and still is the foundation of Ferrum.

The Dining Services Auxiliary Fund is further proof of this living motto. While the number of current participants is not as large as it once was, those who do contribute feel that it is important for young men and women to succeed in accomplishing their educational goals. These goals cannot be met without the required textbooks—often an expense for which a student in need is not equipped. Ferguson believes the motto of Ferrum College is the basis for the continued success of this fund. “There is no amount too small to contribute,” he says. “Every penny adds up.”

There is a great reward for those who are currently a part of this fund and those who have been in the past. Ferguson says that folks who work in dining services are extremely gratified to see students each and every day and know that they have made a difference in their lives. He notes that it is especially so when they witness those student graduates at Commencement each year. Says Ferguson, “The joy that you feel when you get to meet the parents and receive a big hug for the little things that you may have done to help their son or daughter—it makes your eyes water just to talk about it.”


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