President's Message to Campus - April 12, 2019

Budget Forum Review

Thank you to everyone who attended one of the three budget forums I presented over the past few weeks. In these I emphasized the magnitude of the challenge facing higher education in Michigan. We have talked in the past about the 15% decline in the number of students graduating from Michigan high schools. It is now clear that over the next decade, Michigan high school graduates will decline by another 15%. Much of this can be attributed to the declining birth rate in our state. Since 2000, the annual number of children being born in our state has decreased by nearly 25,000. In this period Michigan’s birthrate has declined by 18%, the second largest decrease in the country. One needs to go back to 1944, in the midst of the Second World War, for a time when fewer babies were born in our state.

In what has become an ultracompetitive educational environment, we have done well, especially for a public university with a central campus in a rural area. Despite our best efforts Ferris enrollment has declined. Currently 73% of our general budget is generated by tuition, and as enrollment has declined, so has our revenue. To put this into perspective, a decline of 100 students equals $1.2 million in revenue.

At Ferris our budget approach is straightforward. Inputs need to match outputs; revenues must balance with expenses. To do otherwise places our collective future in jeopardy. Over the past three years we have made many difficult decisions. The budget has been reduced by $15.4 million and 83 positions eliminated. For next year, we will need to reduce the Big Rapids budget by another $4.6 million.

This is a challenge of historic proportion and will continue for the next decade. It is something we need to understand and deal with together. In this environment, we will continue to –

- Help our students
- Retain and increase quality of the educational experience at Ferris, and
- Help you as we deal with these difficult challenges.

There is no denying the impact of this on each of us. The challenges we are facing and what we are experiencing impact on you, they impact on me, they impact on all of us. Here at Ferris State University we work very hard. We have dedicated our lives to our students, to their education experience, and to the difference this makes in their lives. While this is difficult, there is a way forward and together we can and will accomplish this.

Increasing enrollment will require the efforts of everyone. We are unique, and our uniqueness can be the difference maker. At Ferris we care deeply about the success of our students, and this is exemplified in the difference our efforts make for our graduates. We need to help the public understand and recognize the value and impact of what we do.

Success will require we be more entrepreneurial. We need to stretch our comfort level, to take more risks, to try new approaches and to build on those efforts that succeed. Through this we will work to create the Ferris of tomorrow. Together I am confident we can and will succeed. If you did not have an opportunity to attend one of the budget forums, please take a few moments to review the slides presented. They are annotated using the Adobe “Sticky Note” feature. To view, simply download the presentation and open using an Adobe product. Additional information on the budget is accessible here and also on the Budget Office website. If you have questions, ideas or suggestions, please e-mail them to me at [email protected]

One Day for Dawgs

The 24-hour giving challenge, One Day for Dawgs, experienced tremendous success on Wednesday. Over $83,900 was raised by more than 850 donors to 34 different fundraising campaigns across campus. Congratulations to everyone who helped plan and execute this virtual funding effort. In its first year, last year’s challenge raised nearly $37,000. This is extraordinary progress.

To everyone who donated to their favorite cause or interest on campus, thank you so very much. Your support for these efforts is sincerely and deeply appreciated. To all of the students, faculty, staff and community members who promoted and shared this special giving day on social media and within their network, you have helped create an exciting new tradition at Ferris. Thank you.

International Festival of Cultures

On Sunday, April 14, from 1 to 5 p.m., the 31st annual International Festival of Cultures will be held inside the University Center. Hosted by the Office of International Education, this event celebrates the food, art, music and culture of nearly 40 countries. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view various displays and performances by our students representing their home countries.

This event is open to everyone and is a wonderful tradition on our campus and in our community. Please take time Sunday afternoon to join the many people who will be celebrating the diverse cultures represented on our campus. It is truly an enjoyable and educational experience.

SPARC

The Strategic Planning and Resource Council will be meeting on Tuesday, April 16, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the University Center, Room 202A. Topics on the agenda include an Online Learning Update with Amy Greene, an in-depth look at the University’s next strategic plan and planning for the SPARC summer retreat. Everyone is welcome – you need not be a member of SPARC to attend.

Athletics

Our men's golf team won their second tournament championship of the spring this week at the University of Indianapolis Greyhound Invitational in Noblesville, Ind. The team finished 17 strokes ahead of runner-up host Indianapolis and 17 other regional schools in the 54-hole event. Along with winning the team title, the men also had two top individual finishers in the event. Senior Jack Weller earned individual medalist honors with a 207 figure and was selected by the GLIAC as its male golfer of the week. Senior teammate Seth Terpstra shot a 212 total as tournament runner up. Congratulations to the entire team on their continued success and achievement.

David L. Eisler, president