Campus Center Highlight: Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University

IIDA Campus Center: Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University (KCAD)

IIDA Chapter: Michigan Chapter

Where: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Board Members: Kelsey Ballast, Student IIDA, Campus Center President

Alanna Sanchez, Student IIDA,  Campus Center President-Elect

Ashley Newton, Student IIDA, Senior Class Representative

Number of Student Members: 34

IIDA Campus Centers are the first point of contact interior design students have to IIDA. Each campus center is unique in design, programming, and initiatives, which makes for a varied student experience across chapters. Starting today, we want to highlight the diversity of IIDA student experiences by introducing you to a handful of campus centers. From how they run their group to what activities garner the most student interest, here is what we learned from IIDA Student Members Kelsey Ballast, IIDA Campus Center President, and Ashley Newton, Senior Class Representative.

A Winning Organizational Structure 

The KCAD Campus Center Board of Directors consists of five students with representatives from each school class (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior). Each representative has individual responsibilities and everyone is voted in by their cohort. Board members meet monthly with a faculty advisor and schedule separate meetings on top of campus center meetings. What gives KCAD’s Campus Center structure extra support is the role not just of a campus center president but a president-elect. The president-elect, a junior, shadows the president, a senior, for the year with the intent of being well-familiarized with what exactly the president role entails. Says Kelsey, the president-elect position is “locked into being the president the next year, especially being a club at our university. There are more strings attached.” 

Events That Engage

Two of KCAD’s most popular events encourage students and design professionals to network. “Students always want to take advantage of those opportunities and those are the things that get a high turnout and a lot of interest from our student members,” said Ashley.

At monthly update meetings, working professionals from a firm or manufacturer, with a focus on Kendall alumni, are invited to speak to students. Lunch and Learns are a more formalized affair with lunch provided (“Always a popular thing to be at,” said Kelsey) and professionals from the field bring samples of their work and explaining what they do to students. Representatives from Steelcase and Haworth are just some of the big names that have presented – an advantage of living in a historic furniture manufacturing center.

But the students at KCAD are also very proactive about making sure these programs and resources are available. They work with their faculty advisors that have connections with larger industries and maintain lines of communication with the larger Michigan Chapter. The reciprocal relationship is a defining characteristic between the IIDA Campus Center at KCAD and the Michigan Chapter. “This becomes a big family that you can leverage later on. You get to know most people through your time here that you never know when they’re going to be able to help you out or give you input, advice, or experience with anything,” says Ashley.

We’re a Big Family

The IIDA Campus Center at KCAD has specific campus center board members that act as additional liaisons with Michigan Chapter leaders. This has been instrumental in forming close relationships that feel like family. “Being a freshman coming into design school, I was a little worried of not feeling that community and feeling very competitive all the time. IIDA has definitely softened that and has created a community here at our school and then a community of designers broader in our region,” said Kelsey. 

Ashley echoes the sentiment: “Kendall is a commuter campus and so having that opportunity to be in a group with our students that is outside of schoolwork and extends to more professional events, or gives you a glimpse into what you do outside of school and beyond school, has been fantastic for both social and professional reasons. The opportunities of networking with and meeting people — it becomes a lot more fun to go out and have those conversations when we’re either interviewing for jobs, even just talking to other professionals in general.”

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