President David Eisler’s $612,766 compensation package for the year 2021 was broken down in a Freedom of Information Act report requested by UniServ director Brandy Vanderhovel.
While the administrators’ salaries are public, FFA members look for more than what is readily available.
“We get information from the FOIA that is not detailed in the annual salary report.” FFA president Charles Bacon said.
Eisler received $277,662 in base salary last year. As explained by mechanical engineering professor James Rumpf, this is only a small fraction of “the total cost of having Dave work here.”
The rest of his compensation includes a $44,828 housing allowance and a $175,000 retention bonus.
Because Ferris chooses to offer presidents a housing allowance rather than building and providing a university house, Rumpf referred to this sum of money as “a heck of a mortgage payment.”
“It’s common among all presidents to allow [them] to buy a house on the market,” Rumpf said. “It’s money he gets to keep when he sells the house. So, it’s another form of compensation, but it doesn’t have to be called salary.”
Bacon was particularly intrigued by the large bonus. The FFA wonders what “benefit Ferris earns by giving a retiring president a retention bonus of $175,000.”
“Why did Eisler get a $175,000 retention bonus? Where exactly is he going in his final year? To another university? You use retention bonuses to keep someone,” Bacon said.
Rumpf believes the retention bonus was rewarded after the fact, not as an incentive to stay longer into the future. There is no clarification from the president on this matter as both Eisler and Provost Bobby Fleischman declined the Torch’s offer to provide a comment.
“We don’t know how [the Board of Trustees] arrives at these decisions,” Rumpf said. “Some of what the board does is subject to open meetings. But they can go into committee, especially to discuss financial things, and nobody knows what the heck they talk about. When they come out and they pass a motion, that’s public.”
The next category of Eisler’s non-salary benefits includes $83,848 worth of retirement compensation, long-term disability, wellness participation and insurance coverage. This covers all health expenses from life and health insurance to vision and dental care.
Finally, the president received $31,428 in reimbursed expenses. This is made up of $14,961 in lawn care, $16,272 in-home repairs and $195 in snow plowing.
Fleischman’s compensation package totaled $290,199.52 last year. Earning considerably less than the president, the provost did not receive a bonus of any kind and is not granted a housing allowance.
Fleischman received $48,379 in retirement, disability and insurance benefits, as well as $9.52 in reimbursed expenses for “personal car mileage.”
Rumpf served as FFA president before Bacon, so this is not his first time analyzing the president’s income.
“I’ve been looking at these numbers for a long time and they’ve been going up a lot faster than faculty salaries, that’s for sure,” Rumpf said.
Rumpf explained that other university expenses tied to Eisler’s presidency include job training early in his tenure at Ferris.
“Also, not in [the report] are some costs associated with having a consultant for Dave to teach him to be a president. So, it’s not actually going to him, but it’s a cost of having Dave here.”
Because Ferris is a mid-level school, administrators tend to climb the ladder rather than arrive with previous administrative experience.
“We don’t get a lot of people who have experienced being president somewhere else. Usually, it’s going to be a provost from another college, or at the very least a dean,” Rumpf said.
Eisler served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah before joining Ferris in 2003.
“This is their first time at that level, so this is where they make mistakes…for X amount of time depending on the person, they’re not really worth what we’re paying them,” Rumpf said.