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FSU’s David Eisler Reflects on Time as President

Eisler Spring2011

Ferris State University their selection for their new president, Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink.

After 19 years in Big Rapids, Ferris’ current president, David Eisler, says he’s ready to retire.

“I’m certain that there will be a lot of emotion as I step away, but I’m happy,” said Eisler.

Before he was president at Ferris State University, he was a student himself.

Eisler, from New Jersey, received a bachelor and doctoral degree in Clarinet Performance at the University of Michigan, where he also met his wife, Patsy.

He was an instructor at Troy State University in Troy, Alabama, before becoming Dean of Fine Arts at Eastern New Mexico University.

Eisler was Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah before coming to Ferris.

He said his number one memory as president will always be commencement.

“When you watch our students walk across the stage, you see that look on their face, that look of achievement or triumph,” said Eisler. “I think people sometimes don’t understand the challenges that students go through to go to college. People think that they’re supported by their parents, and it’s a straight path, but we have students who have overcome the most amazing things to graduate.”

The importance of education, and the well-being of students, Eisler said has been a priority.

“When we began at Ferris, our graduation rate was 37% and now it’s 62%, and that’s an 88% increase,” said Eisler. “The object of going to college is to graduate from college. You think about all those students who are now graduating who might not have graduated in the past, it’s really what this is about.”

Eisler said providing scholarships for students, and recognizing the need for them, is also important to him.

“A lot of our students who come to Ferris come from challenging economic backgrounds, and so being able to have that financial support for them, that scholarship support, is really important,” Eisler said. “We’ve actually decreased student debt at Ferris over the last 10 years. You don’t get the opportunity of a Ferris education if you can’t afford it, and so we’ve worked hard on those kinds of things.”

Under his presidency, Eisler said they’ve added 60 new degree options for students and over $400 million in new construction on campus.

“I think this idea that we gave a career focus, that we prepare for student success, I think that’s very much a part of our experience,” he said. “I think it’s one of the reasons I stayed is because this resonates with me.”

Eisler said he has confidence that Bill Pink will be able to lead Ferris State University in the right direction.

“I think he’s exactly the right choice for our university,” he said. “He’s such an enthusiastic, charismatic leader. I think the upward trajectory at Ferris is just going to be great under his leadership, and I think we can look forward to great things from him.”

During his retirement, he plans on spending more time with his wife, daughters, and grandsons, though he won’t stray too far from campus.

“I can see myself still on campus going to the Rec Center, going to sporting events, interacting with students,” said Eisler. “I love being engaged with the academic life of the university, this is a group of people that I enjoy being with.”

He said he may even pop in and play the clarinet with the FSU Band.

“Maybe they’ll let me play at some of the games now and then,” Eisler said, smiling.