Budget cuts made by the university have had several impacts around campus, including cutting summer classes and restricting faculty contract negotiations. There has been discussion about lower enrollment this year, making negotiations more difficult, as tuition
makes up 72 percent of the university’s revenue, according to Director of Budgetary Planning and Analysis Sally DePew. Negotiations, or lack thereof, between the university and the Ferris Faculty Association (FFA) drove faculty to strike. The strike was stopped by a court order and FFA members are now working without a contract.
The university’s last offer was a 2.25 percent increase for three years and a 2.50 percent increase for the next two. The Ferris Faculty Association’s last proposal was a 2.75 percent increase for three years. All faculty salaries are public information and can be found in the Transparency Reporting on the Ferris website. The total amount of money spent on the 460 FFA positions is $47,334,050. The average salary among the FFA is $102,900 and 51.7 percent of members are paid over $100,000. The mean annual wage of all occupations in Michigan in 2017 was $48,300, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. professors (2.8 percent) in the FFA make below that figure.
In an attempt to gain transparency from the university, the Ferris Faculty Association (FFA) used the Freedom of Information Act to get access to a total list of President David Eisler’s compensation and benefits.
Eisler’s total compensation in the fiscal year of 2017 came to $368,425, which included a bonus of $58,500. His benefits totaled $74,874. Eisler’s reimbursed expenses were $43,066, the grand total of all Eisler’s expenses being $486,365. A conflicting factor for many faculty members was the amount of money spent on building renovations in the past couple years. The total cost of building projects this summer was $38.65 million. However, the Swan Annex, which cost $30 million, came from a capital outlay appropriation for a specific building,
according to DePew.
“The state restricts capital outlay appropriations to that project and dollars cannot be used for any other purpose. Other building projects may be funded from private donations, like the Janke golf addition, which is funded with donor dollars for that specific project. In all cases, buildings are supported with one-time dollars. Salaries and benefits are recurring costs which require an ongoing funding source,” DePew said.
Ferris Physical Sciences Professor and FFA President Charles Bacon is upset by the emphasis on building projects. “We have been working with all of the unions here at Ferris…and regardless of the unit we’re in, we all feel like as employees we’re not valued and they’d rather build
buildings,” Bacon said.
Ferris Communications Officer Michelle Rasmussen said the building renovations are necessary to attract students.
“Our faculty are important, and so is investing and re-investing in our facilities,” Rasmussen said. “To attract students, we need to have facilities on campus that are safe, welcoming and attractive. Our buildings, on average, are almost 22 years old. Many of our buildings are 50 years old or older.”
Many professors are also upset by the decrease in summer class budgeting and the university cancelling classes. Sports Entertainment and Hospitality Management Associate Professor Aaron Waltz said Ferris is cutting back on summer class offerings because of the budget cap for faculty payroll.
“It appears to us, with our numbers, [the budget cap] is between $1.5 and $2 million of faculty wages. So, what happens on the backend, from a total revenue standpoint, they’re leaving between $2 and $3 million of tuition revenue out there by cancelling classes,” Waltz said.
“Instead of having 35,000 total credit hours, we did 31,000 last summer, and we should have been at 33,000 at worst. So, if you take
the 33,000 credit hours and you apply the lowest rate of tuition at $408 or $414, that gets you to about $2 million in lost revenue.”
The minimum number of students needed for a class to breakeven is five or six, according to Waltz, but many classes are full with 20 to 30, so the university does not lose money if there are sections with lower enrollment.
“Just to maintain an arbitrary budget,” Waltz said. “It’s a meaningless budget. They’re limiting their own opportunity for revenue in offering classes for students.”
Eisler’s Expenses (FY17):
• Compensation includes base salary
($268,088), housing allowance ($41,837)
and bonus ($58,500)
• Benefits includes
deferred comp ($54,340), health care
($13,209), vision ($108), life insurance
coverage ($2,575), dental ($472) and
long term disability ($4,170)
Reimbursed Expenses (FY17):
• Travel & Entertainment: $26,764
• Meals: $983
• Lawn Care: $6,249
• House Cleaning: $1,410
• Other: $42
• Home Repairs: $6,190
• House-sitting: $560
• Snow plowing: $210
• Pest Control: $658
Faculty Salary Information
• Lowest FFA member’s
• Highest FFA member’s
• Average FFA salary: $102,900
• Total amount spent on FFA
• 25 FFA members make less than Eisler’s