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President's Response to Resolution of No Confidence (Sept. 24, 2018)

To the Ferris State University Community,

Thank you for taking time to read this response to the resolution of no confidence drafted and distributed by the Ferris Faculty Association. In preparing these materials, I have responded to the allegations with factual supports.

The use of a vote of no confidence is embedded throughout the history of relationships between the FFA and presidents of Ferris State University. Often times, it is employed in negotiations to pressure presidents to yield to their demands. The FFA conducted a vote of no confidence in President Popovich (1989-1994), in President Sederburg (1994-2003) and previously against me in 2007. While there are multiple ways the FFA can express displeasure in the leadership at Ferris, they choose the form of a vote of no confidence.

When I was offered the honor of becoming president at Ferris State University, friends and colleagues cautioned me strongly against accepting. They cited examples of how previous presidents had been treated, especially during faculty negotiations.

For me these warnings did not offset the promise of Ferris. I saw then and believe so very strongly now that our approach to education is precisely what our students need and what public universities should be. The work our faculty and staff do with our students truly does change lives. In these 15 years, I have seen this affirmed very many times through our students, in their stories which I tell at commencement, and by success in both their careers and lives. This is what makes Ferris both special and unique.

During these negotiations and especially this past month, I have experienced that other side of Ferris. The personal attacks of the past month are something no one should experience and do not reflect the values and aspirations of our University. The climate this creates is not healthy, and it impacts everyone in our University community.

In the past weeks, I have endeavored to read every comment and response received on the University’s communications regarding negotiations, both positive and negative. It is clear that there are some people who are angry, and tensions are high. As president, balancing the needs of our employees with the finances available result in difficult decisions and positions that can be unpopular. There have also been messages of support and reassurance. These are much appreciated. From other messages, it is clear that for some there has not been enough factual information shared regarding negotiations. Additional information is provided here to address this.

The delay since the last negotiating session has been far too long. Negotiation sessions are now scheduled for Oct. 2 and Oct. 5. Our team will continue to press to schedule additional sessions so that a contract agreement can be reached. That is and should be the purpose here – I want faculty to receive the financial benefits of the next contract. For this to happen, a tentative agreement needs to be reached, and the contract ratified and approved.

The links below highlight the allegations and accusations in the resolution. Clicking on them will connect you with the detailed response prepared. In this, I have worked to balance pertinent facts with brevity. It is not my expectation that you will read each section, but it is very important to me to respond to this resolution transparently and with the facts. If there are errors or misstatements, I would appreciate you bringing them to my attention. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or 591-2500.

During my 15 years as president of Ferris, I have embraced the challenges that come along with being a university president. I have devoted myself and my energies to building what I believe is a great and consequential University and have worked tirelessly for our University, its faculty and staff, and our students.

Please know that there is no greater privilege for me than to serve as president of Ferris State University. I have poured my heart and soul into Ferris, Big Rapids and the communities we serve. I remain determined and committed more than ever to work for our university and our students.

It is an honor to serve as your president.


David L. Eisler