President's Message to Campus - August 24, 2018

Today as students are checking into residence halls and apartments on campus, we are also engaged in important negotiations with the Ferris Faculty Association. As these negotiations head into the weekend, I would like to share some thoughts with the Ferris community.

While progress is being made, I understand that much work remains to be done on key compensation issues. We have always taken great pride in providing a compensation package that will attract and retain excellent faculty. A strong faculty is one of our greatest strengths and critical to our collective success.

As important as those considerations are to the University, as president I have a fiscal responsibility to balance faculty interests with the challenging enrollment environment we are experiencing, the financial resources of our students and their families, and the needs of other employee groups.

Since 2009 we have talked about the downward trend in the number of graduating high school students in Michigan. This trend is expected to continue through much of the next decade. In this climate, the competition for students will only increase, with each college and university across the state striving to maintain its current enrollment. In this challenging environment, we have done far better than all but the largest institutions in our state. However, since the fall of 2015, student headcount at Ferris has declined by 6.2% and student credit hours by 6.9%. Based on current numbers, a decline of 4% in headcount and SCH seems likely this year. We are doing better, in fact much better, especially with new freshmen, but declines in transfer and international students continue.

The uncertainty caused by these negotiations comes after a summer that has been for many of us a very busy time preparing for students and the start of the semester. And we know this comes on the heels of the painful steps we took to reduce University staff by offering an early retirement incentive and not filling open positions. In this we have eliminated 85 full-time positions during the past year.

Since May, both negotiating teams have worked very hard and put in innumerable hours during this process. I urge everyone in these negotiations to continue to seek common ground so the important work of our faculty, of all our employees and of the University can begin as scheduled on Monday.

David L. Eisler, president