Ferris faces major budget cuts

Slashed funding in higher education causes university to reduce costs

Since Michigan has been struggling and higher education funding is being cut, Ferris has to make cuts to its budget.

Ferris President David Eisler said, “With the structural deficits in the Michigan budget, it was obvious that significant budget reductions were coming.” He said Ferris has been working on budget reductions since February 2009.

Due to the structural deficits in Michigan’s budget and Gov. Snyder’s proposal to cut higher education funding by 21.9 percent, Ferris has already had to cut exactly $7.3 million from its budget. Eisler said, “By being proactive, we reduced the budget before receiving this bad news from the state.”

He also said, “Doing this over time rather than in a reactive fashion to the state allows us to reduce the budget with the least negative impact.”

Gov. Snyder’s cuts to higher education funding could be responsible for the loss of nearly $10.6 million for Ferris or more than $780 for each student enrolled, said Eisler in his memorandum to faculty and staff.

In order to save money and reduce costs, Ferris works with other colleges and universities as a group and negotiates preferred pricing because of the volume directed to the vendor. Vendors include risk management insurance, health insurance, computers, software, office supplies and other purchases.

Eisler said Ferris uses a cooperative for electric power, securing preferred pricing in advance, and purchasing natural gas and utilities in bulk.

In terms of how these cuts are going to affect Ferris students, Eisler said they have tried to implement these reductions with minimal impact on students.

He said, “Our intent is always to maintain academic quality and provide access to our education.”

Eisler said much of the budget of a university is in personnel costs. He also said, “Over this period we have eliminated 100 positions at the universities. No programs will be cut as a result of this budget reduction from the state.”

“Fewer employees at the university means that there will be some more wait for services and some equipment will not be replaced,” Eisler said.

Gov. Snyder has proposed to reserve a fund of $83 million for universities that hold tuition increases to less than seven percent – if all state universities hold costs below this level, which Ferris has been doing since 2003 – the impact would be a 15 percent reduction in funding with the $7.3 million cut being the largest in Ferris’ history.

To help save costs, Ferris has also decided to sell the Holiday Inn and Conference Center, which it has owned since 1989. Budget issues are one of the many factors for this decision. Ferris’ contract of ownership with the Holiday Inn will expire on June 30.

“We believe at this time we should concentrate on the core academic mission of the university. Selling this property will help facilitate this,” Eisler said.

Eisler said he is committed to minimizing the impact of budget cuts on students and is taking action by cutting costs at Ferris in the most efficient ways possible.

“In my eight years, I have not asked students to pay for budget reductions and we will not do this here,” said Eisler. n