A Gift That Means the World
CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Connie and Carl Ferris Foundation, building on more than a decade of financial support for the Department of Business Management at Washington College, has committed $500,000 to create a permanent endowment for a summer travel program in international business.
The late Carl Ferris, who served on the College’s Board of Visitors and Governors, began his benefaction in 2000 with a $1 million gift that created the Connie and Carl Ferris Chair in Business Management. He continued to collaborate with the inaugural holder of the Ferris Chair, business professor Terrence Scout, funding programs that helped Washington College students learn about international business. And in 2006, he began supporting Dr. Scout’s growing summer-abroad program.
For the first four years of the summer program (2002 through 2005), the students travelled to Leiden University in The Netherlands for two weeks of intensive study. They compared European and American business practices and visited the manufacturing plants, offices, and training headquarters of high-profile businesses such as Nike, IKEA, Villeroy & Boch, and Heineken.
When Scout decided to take the students to China the following year, Carl Ferris stepped up with grants that made the trip affordable, and thus possible, for more students. “He was always very complimentary about the program,” says Scout. “But the idea of going to China seemed to particularly resonate with him.”
Subsequent years brought trips to India and Scandinavia. This past May, 14 students visited Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. In all, some 150 students have travelled abroad with Professor Scout, who reports an ever-increasing pool of applicants.
Ferris took a personal interest in the students who participated in the program, meeting with them for lunches to talk and see presentations detailing their time abroad. “He was very generous, very gracious,” says Scout. “He wanted to see students succeed, do well, and have international experiences that were as affordable as possible.”
Following Carl Ferris’ death in 2009, his wife, Connie, and their daughter, Connie Ferris Meyer, continued the family’s generosity to the College. Now, thanks to this major new commitment from their Foundation, the Ferris Program in International Business will enjoy a long-term source of funding. The $500,000 grant, to be paid over a 10-year period, will provide annual contributions to the program while the endowment grows.
“The Ferris Program in International Business has created important opportunities for our students to learn first-hand about global business practices,” says College president Mitchell B. Reiss. “We’re delighted and grateful that Mrs. Ferris and her family, through the Foundation, have decided to make their gifts a permanent part of the College’s Business Management program.”
A native of Olean, New York, Carl W. Ferris served in the Navy during WWII and earned his degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell, where he met the woman he would marry, Connie Foley. He retired from DuPont after 17 years in the Petroleum Chemical Division and then made his fortune in the hamburger business. Over a 23-year period, he and Connie owned and operated all the Burger King franchises in two Pennsylvania counties—Bucks and Montgomery. They retired to Rock Hall, Md., in 1986 and became generous and involved members of the community.
For more information about the Department of Business Management, visit http://business.washcoll.edu/.