President's Message to Campus - Nov. 13, 2020

In our nation, in our state and in our region, it is clear the spread of the COVID-19 virus is increasing rapidly, as much as three times or more what it was just weeks ago. At Ferris our active cases are increasing, but remain less than what we experienced in October. Now is the time for each of us to be especially careful, not just in our work environment, but in all parts of our lives. We know the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing. Beyond that we need to be extra vigilant about groups of friends and extended family, public gatherings and travel. 

Five voluntary COVID-19 testing clinics are currently scheduled for students, faculty and staff between now and the end of the semester: 

  • Wednesday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 23, 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

This rapid testing is for those who are asymptomatic, or not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Before you arrive for your testing time, you will need to complete the symptom checker online and be prepared to show a green negative status prior to being tested. More information on how to sign up will be available soon via University Wide Notices.

It is now clear it was a wise decision to move to nearly all remote delivery of instruction after Thanksgiving. We all understand this is a semester like no other, but together you have made it possible for our students to continue their education. All of us have had to change, and it has required sacrifices and extra effort. Thank you for doing so. Please continue to make good, prudent decisions to keep each other safe.

Ferris Friendsgiving

Results of a recent survey indicate more than 500 students and families will remain on campus over the Thanksgiving recess. To help support our students over the holiday break, Dining Services would like to provide each student and family with a Brutus Box. These boxes will contain two meals per day for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the days when dining operations are closed. Students will have a variety of options to choose from including a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. 

If you would like to sponsor a Brutus Box for a student, you can do so online. This is a wonderful way to support our students at a time when they cannot be with their families and friends. Any surplus donations will be sent to the Bulldog Basic Needs Alliance, a Ferris program that provides emergency assistance to current students facing food or housing insecurity. If you would like more information please call Dining Services at x2210.

Budget Forum

It was good to connect with many of you at yesterday’s Budget Forum on Zoom. It has now been over a decade since I began these, and I appreciate your continued interest in the finances and the future of our University. In the session, I reviewed last year’s fiscal results, provided information on our current budget and revenues, and looked forward to next year’s budget. Additionally, I provided a perspective on successes, challenges and enrollment during this global pandemic.   

The University’s financial condition remains strong, and the budget is balanced. Our budgetary approach has always been that inputs need to match outputs, and expenses must balance with revenues. There is no question that the combination of declining enrollment together with COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our University. In this we have made difficult decisions, with general fund budget reductions for this year of nearly $15 million. In the auxiliary budget, the financial impact to housing and dining operations has been particularly severe with an $11 million reduction in revenue. This is a third less than the revenues originally anticipated for 2019-2020.  

Reversing the trend of declining enrollments is key in avoiding future budget reductions.  This year there are special challenges in recruiting students without high school visitations, and with more contacts happening digitally or remotely. Additionally, there is the unique circumstance that nearly 90% of freshman applicants do not have SAT or ACT scores because of the challenges in offering and administering these tests during the pandemic.  

I am hopeful that with the creative and collaborative ways we are connecting with students, we will emerge from the pandemic enrolling greater numbers of students in Big Rapids, at our statewide locations and online. In doing so we will be a university committed to its mission and providing opportunity for our students and their futures. 

If you did not have opportunity to attend the budget forum, I have prepared a copy of the slides using the Adobe sticky note function. When you save this file to your computer and open it with an Adobe product, you can click on the yellow squares with the balloons inside to open a comment box. If you have questions, ideas or suggestions, please e-mail them to me at [email protected]

Sally DePew, director of Budgetary Planning and Analysis, has been an extraordinary partner in preparing these Budget Forums. After 42 years of distinguished service at our University, Sally is retiring at the end of January. I have learned much from her insight into the University’s finances and datasets, and will truly miss her contributions. Please join me in thanking her for her many contributions to Ferris State University.

Title IX Training Reminder

At Ferris State University, we embrace our University’s core values and a learning environment free from all forms of harassment. In this we are responsible for providing a safe, welcoming and respectful environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campus. Over the last few years, we have raised considerable awareness about sexual harassment and misconduct through in-person and online trainings available to all members of our campus community. 

It is important for each of us to understand how to prevent, respond to, and report harassment and discrimination, including sexual misconduct. If you have not yet completed the Sexual Misconduct Reporting Obligations training, you should have received a reminder asking you to complete this by December 15, 2020. There is a new, self-paced online educational module available from the Staff Center for Training and Development through Canvas. If you would prefer to complete this training by scheduling and attending a departmental Zoom training with the Title IX Office, please email Title IX Coordinator Kaitlin Zies.

Each of us wants a campus where every person works and learns in an environment free of harassment. There is no place for sexual misconduct within our Ferris community. Your cooperation and support are deeply appreciated.

SPARC

The Strategic Planning and Resource Council (SPARC) will meet Tuesday, Nov. 17, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Zoom. Bobby Fleischman, Franklin Hughes, David Pilgrim and Jeanine Ward-Roof will facilitate discussion on the University’s strategic plan and its application to enrollment, Jim Bachmeier will provide information and seek input on the start of a new University master plan, and Spence Tower and I will share an invitation to participate in a “special edition” SPARC meeting in December.

SPARC is open to all. You are invited and encouraged to attend and participate. Please e-mail Terri Cook for more information and the Zoom login credentials.

Ferris Forward Podcast

The latest Ferris Forward podcast released on Wednesday features College of Engineering Technology Assistant Professor Luke Hedman, Laboratory Facilities Coordinator Brian Pacholka, and College of Business Accounting faculty member Emily Zoet. Our conversation centers on their work with the COVID-19 Community Response Team, the efforts implemented to assist Operation Face Shield and to help frontline workers in our community, state, region and world during the pandemic.

This is a wonderful example of collaboration, with many in the Ferris community coming together during a time of need, asking how they can help. Thank you to the following individuals who donated their time and resources to reach out to the community, produce cloth face masks/face shields, perform research and testing, and deliver PPE items to organizations in need: Michele Albright, Jason Bush, Teresa Cook, Deb DeBruyn, Daniel deRegnier, Thomas Dowling, Pam Duddles, Kara Eagle, Yvonne Erickson, Sandy Gholston, Bruce Hammond, Kim Hancock, Michele Harvey, Luke Hedman, Anne Hogenson, Emmanuel Jadhav, Judy Keith, Katherine LaPietra, Jon Maroney, Dawnetta Montague, Kristy Motz, Brian Pacholka, Mary Picucci, Michelle Rasmussen, Phil Renato, Tom Van Pernis, Janette Ward, Karen Weber, Marcy Westveer, Debi Whitman, Cindee Wilcox and Emily Zoet.  

This is a true story of our people going above and beyond to help others. I am extraordinarily proud of them and the difference they have made for others. Our world needs more people like you.        

David L. Eisler, president