Off the Record: President David Eisler

Ferris State President opens up on university and personal topics

Torch- Looking back, what are the biggest accomplishments for the university this academic year?

Eisler- We have had a lot of success at Ferris. If you look at how Ferris has grown; in a decade we are a third larger. You look at our beautiful campus, our new facilities, the new student center coming in, the new degree programs, and I think there is a really positive feeling about our university and I think we have a lot of forward momentum. For me, my biggest accomplishment is when you are at commencement and you shake students hands as they walk across the stage and you see what students achieve, that is the biggest accomplishment of all.

Torch- What would you say Ferris’ biggest accomplishments are in your 11 year tenure here?

Eisler- I think we’ve grown the university, we’ve constrained costs, we have created an environment where students can feel comfortable and they can feel at home, and where they can be successful. Success is what our university is about.

Torch- Looking forward, what are you most excited for next year?

Eisler- It’s always exciting when it gets to be August and classes begin and students come back to the university. So, the first thing I get excited about is students coming back to school. I also look forward to so many events at the beginning of school like Founder’s Day and the first football game, so I am very much looking forward to that.

Torch- Given your background in music, degrees both from University of Michigan and Yale in clarinet play, how did it come to you having a career in academic administration?

Eisler- I did begin as a musician and a faculty member, and there’s a progression you go through when you have an administrative career. I didn’t set out or intend to be an administrator and I certainly didn’t set out to be a university president. When the opportunity was available to come to Ferris, for me there was so much about this university that resonated with me. My wife and I both went to college in Michigan, so it really felt like coming home.

Torch- Do you feel as though your path would be different if you had not chosen to study music in college?

Eisler- I started studying clarinet when I was six, so I can’t remember much of before I was a musician. Music was always a part of my life and things I learned from music like self-discipline, setting high standards, and working with others, those are all things that have helped my in my career.

Torch- What was your favorite music growing up? Now?

Eisler- Growing up I listened to a lot of classical music, as I am a classically trained musician. But my taste now is all over the map; I listen to all sorts of things now.

Torch- Looking at the huge campus event that is Ferris Fest, did you have your hand in creating the Ferris Fest event that it is now?

Eisler- I actually had nothing to with that; it has always been our students. I think that is one of the qualities of Ferris that our students produce and manage this event. We engage our students in creating these things, and Ferris Fest is a great example of that.

Torch- Do you try to have an open and inviting image about yourself, as you hold events like “Pancakes with the President?”

Eisler- Well, I was a faculty member for a long time and one of the great joys of spending your entire life working at a university is you get to work with students. That’s why we have a university, so I look for opportunities to engage with students. I love playing with the pep bands. I enjoy pancakes, they don’t let me cook, but it’s something I can do in terms of greeting and talking with students. I really enjoy the opportunity to get to know them.

Torch- To a student who might not know you, what would be the first thing that you would want them to know about you as a president?

Eisler- I would hope they would see that I am interested in their opinion and that I’d want to listen to them. There’s a lot that we can learn from our students.

Torch- What is your guilty pleasure food?

Eisler- I’m really dull that way (laughs), ice cream, I love ice cream and my wife would say, “Boy is that ever true.”

Torch- What is the one thing most people don’t know about you?

Eisler- I am a marathon runner. I have run two marathons this year so far, I ran in Orlando and I ran in Los Angeles and I’m going to run a half marathon in Minnesota. I run 30 to 40 miles a week. It’s kind of my thinking time and it’s restful and relaxing for me.

Torch- If you were to give one piece of advice to an incoming freshman, what would it be?

Eisler- Get engaged. It’s just that simple. Students will hear this over and over, but you just need to get out and make new friends and find out what the university has to offer. The people are here to help students succeed and it’s a great opportunity to find the people who really have the same interest that you do.

Torch- In your own words, what is Bulldog pride?

Eisler- I think Bulldog pride is this appreciation for the Ferris experience. It’s this unbelievable commitment to our university and the difference it makes for students.