Community members say they will miss President Ross, reflect on his tenure at CMU


While students and faculty on Central Michigan University’s campus reacted to President George Ross’ decision to step down July 31, Mount Pleasant leaders said they will miss him and the relationship he had with the community.  

Erik Rodriguez, interim public relations director of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe called Ross a “strong leader” who was instrumental in collaboration of projects between the tribe and the university. 

“(Ross) has been beneficial with making sure that the university has been aware of the Chippewa nickname (and) moving away from the mascot,” he said. “Making sure that we focus with the student body, the student government, the community and as well as alumni to let them know what the Chippewa name means.

"Our relationship with (CMU) is the strongest it has ever been with President Ross.”

Rodriguez also noted the implementation of the Niijkewehn Mentoring Program, which Ross supported during his tenure. Niijkewehn is an after school program that pairs native and non-native CMU college student mentors with native youth and at-risk youth to provide a safe place and a positive role model. 

Rodriguez said the tribe hopes Ross’ successor follows in his footsteps — continuing with the partnership, diversity and building relationships.

Bret Hyble, Mount Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said the chamber will miss Ross. He described Ross as always being “accessible, approachable and authentic” with the way he interacts with the community. 

“He has always been an advocate for collaboration, with our city and our business community,” Hyble said. “He and Elizabeth have been regular attendees at chamber events. He’s been a strong supporter of our business regionalism as a member of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance.”

As for the future president of CMU, Hyble said the board of trustees have done well planning for the future and feels it will find a president that matches CMU's direction.

Kathy Ling, Mount Pleasant commissioner and former mayor, said she will miss his role in "fostering a good relationship" between the university and city.

“I was surprised to hear Ross planned to retire," Ling said. "Ross has been a great partner with the city. I was honored in 2013 to have the opportunity to be featured with him in a series done by the Michigan Municipal League that identified CMU and Mount. Pleasant as a good example of a community with a positive town and gown relationship.  

"As a grandmother myself, I know that he and his wife, Elizabeth, will love their new role as grandparents.”

State Rep. Roger Hauck, R-Union Township, said Ross has done a great job for the university and community during his tenure. 

"I’m sad to see him go," Hauck said. "He’s leaving on his own terms and good terms. Central’s a good school, they’ll get a lot of good candidates and we’ll move forward." 

Tom Olver, president and CEO of United Way said Ross and wife, Elizabeth have "exhibited grace, compassion and wisdom" during the time in service. 

United Way of Gratiot & Isabella Counties is a local non-profit organization. CMU partners up with United Way every year to put on "Dance United" and raise money for the charity. 

"George and Elizabeth have given so much of their time, talent and treasure to advance the mission of CMU, while actively supporting community initiatives to enhance the quality of life throughout the region," Olver said. "(They) added tremendous value to our community while constantly enriching the lives of others."