Eisler’s compensation package makes nationwide report

See the data on how President Eisler’s compensation package matches up with other presidents

If you’ve ever wondered how much Ferris President David Eisler makes in a year, it’s your lucky day.

In article by The Chronicle for Higher Education, reported that Eisler’s total compensation package amounts to a grand total of $891,000 per year, with his bonus pay in 2019 amounting to $418,000. This article was updated this year with 2019 public-college data. The Chronicle compiled data from 600 private colleges and 270 public universities.

While Eisler’s base pay is $277,707, the ratio of his total compensation to average faculty salary is a 9:1 ratio; only four of the presidents included in this report made a higher ratio than that. Ferris physical sciences professor of 36 years and Ferris Faculty Association President Charles Bacon said he knew the article would be a “contentious issue” and felt the ratio was quite high.

“Well I would say, it’s a bit excessive,” Bacon said. “I don’t like to be a position to tell people what they can and can’t earn, but then at the same time, when he is cutting positions and laying off people, it does seem disingenuous, accepting such a high salary.”

Presidents listed in the article with a similar compensation package work for universities such as West Virginia University, University of Louisville, North Carolina State University, University of Buffalo and Temple University. These institutions have student enrollment numbers ranging from 22,640 to 39,581 compared to Ferris’ 14,187. Eisler makes $281,779 more in total compensation than the next president at a similar institution (Texas State University). 

“With a comparison like that, it certainly seems out of bounds,” Bacon said. “This is student tuition that’s ultimately paying the salary and he’s making a lot more than a similar counterpart.”

Information gathered from The Chronicle for Higher Education

Compared with other Michigan universities in the Chronicle’s report, Michigan State University’s president Samuel Stanley has a total compensation package of $386,795 (Stanley just started his position in 2019—former president Lou Ann Simon had a compensation package of $857,024) and University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel has a compensation package of $920,295. Central Michigan University president Robert Davies’ compensation package is a total of $437,511 and Wayne State University president M. Roy Wilson has a compensation package of $654,419.

According to the Board of Trustees chair Amna Seibold, part of Eisler’s bonus pay was a longevity incentive payment of $338,000. Seibold said Eisler used this money to support a scholarship endowment through the Ferris Foundation. The scholarships help orphans and foster care youth have the opportunity to attend Ferris.

2019 is the first year Eisler has received the incentive payment, according to Ferris Communications Office Michelle Rasmussen. It was a commitment made to him by the Board in 2012 when he was a finalist for presidency at another institution. Eisler’s longevity incentive was taken from the General Fund, which is comprised of student tuition, state support and investment earnings, according to Rasmussen. It was not disclosed how much of the General Fund is funded by student tuition dollars.

“As trustees we carefully review his performance annually and also examine the market factors which must be taken into consideration when setting his compensation for the coming year,” Seibold said in a statement to the Torch. “Dr. Eisler is the senior public university president in the state. We greatly appreciate and value the outstanding leadership he has consistently provided to the University during his 17 years of service at Ferris State University.”

Eisler’s bachelor and doctorate degrees are in clarinet performance. Presidents with similar compensation packages hold degrees in areas of study such as history, computer science, statistics, marketing and educational administration. 

While Bacon doesn’t believe a president’s degree determines how qualified they are for the position, as Eisler was previously a dean and provost before becoming president, he said he will leave the judgement up to others.

“Here’s the thing, he’s been our president for 17 years,” Bacon said. “When he came here, the Board of Trustees, within a year, decided he needed a mentor because apparently he really didn’t know how to do the job. So, they hired a mentor for $50,000 a year and then after five years, they discontinued the mentor and rolled the $50,000 into his salary. If the man’s been on the job 17 years, I guess he should know what he’s doing. I kind of have to leave that to other people to decide whether they think what he’s doing is correct.”