Ferris State University president set to retire in June 2022

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David Eisler was the 18th president in Ferris State University history. Courtesy Ferris State

Ferris State University President David L. Eisler announced he will be retiring in June 2022 after a 47-year career in higher education.

He became the university’s president in 2003, becoming the longest-serving president after its founder, Woodbridge N. Ferris, who served for 44 years.

“Working at Ferris State University is a privilege, and it has been my honor to serve as president,” Eisler said. “This is a great university with a unique and special mission — one that truly changes lives. When I speak with our alumni, I often hear the phrase, ‘If it weren’t for Ferris …’ My experience at Ferris has been so much more than I could have ever imagined. While I may be retiring, I will always be a Bulldog.”

As the 18th president in school history, Eisler has led Ferris State University through several milestones, overseeing the expansion of the academic programs and courses offered.

During his tenure, the student retention rate increased leading to a 65% rise in the graduation rate. The student enrollment increased courtesy of partnerships formed with 22 community colleges throughout the state that have allowed students to further their education at Ferris State University.

Since 2003, there have been 15 major building projects that have totaled $400 million, including the former Federal Building in Grand Rapids, the Michigan College of Optometry building, the University Center, the newest residence hall on campus, North Hall and, most recently, the Center for Virtual Learning.

The Ferris Foundation’s endowment has grown from $18 million to $100 million since Eisler became president. The university’s Now & Always Comprehensive Campaign is in the final stage of reaching its $115 million goal to support students, campus and programs.

In 2019, Eisler and his wife established the Norris and Irene Johnson Scholarship Endowment to assist former foster care youth pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the university.

“President Eisler’s remarkable tenure has encapsulated many successes and challenges for higher education, and his vision and commitment to Ferris State University have been unwavering,” said Amna P. Seibold, chair of the university’s board of trustees. “My fellow board members and the university community appreciate his strong leadership and advocacy for higher education and will join me in offering Dr. Eisler our deepest gratitude for his service to Ferris.”

Eisler also is a community leader as chair of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, and he is on the boards of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU), Michigan Campus Compact (MCC), the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), Michigan Works! West Central, Talent 2025 and the Michigan United Way.

He also is a member of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance Hall of Fame.

Eisler has served as board chair for MASU, the MNA and the university’s two sports conferences, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Seibold said a search for the university’s 19th president will begin in the coming months.

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