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President Eisler Forms Student Debt Task Force to Target Ways to Help Students

Ferris State UniversityFerris State University President David L. Eisler is continuing the charge to address student-loan debt by forming a university-wide task force to develop innovative ways to reduce and manage it.

The Student Debt Task Force, chaired by School of Education professor Leonard Johnson, was formed by Eisler to identify broad priorities for current efforts; consider how to engage the entire university community; and empower faculty leadership for this effort.

Several forums were held during the 2011-12 school year to raise awareness about the student-debt issue, identify underlying causes and solicit ideas from students, faculty and staff to help reduce this burden. More than 1,000 ideas, proposals and suggestions offered during those forums have been refined into 115 statements in four categories and reviewed by various groups, including the Board of Trustees and the Strategic Planning and Resource Council.

“We have a mountain of data now with tons of good suggestions,” said Johnson, who also chairs SPARC. “We have to find the gems.”

The task force has three subcommittees that will focus on three major areas: controlling and reducing costs, finances and financial literacy, and time to degree.

“I think we can identify some concrete things we can put into place right now that might have a benefit,” Johnson said. “And there are some things you just can’t do overnight, but we can try to determine what we can be doing, say three years from now, and look toward beginning those processes.”

The task force will make its recommendations during SPARC’s Nov. 13 meeting.

Task force members include Cathy Archer, Dental Hygiene professor; Dan Burcham, vice president of Student Affairs; Sara Dew, director of Financial Aid; Fritz Erickson, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Doug Haneline, Languages and Literature professor; Gloria Lukasa-Barnett, Developmental Curriculum professor; David Marion, Management professor; Kristy Motz, FLITE Reference and Instructional Services librarian; Bill Potter, associate provost for Retention and Student Success; and Jim Rumpf, program coordinator and professor for Manufacturing Engineering Technology.