Alumni Magazine-Winter 2021

Page 1


Celebrating our differences, united by common goals, Ball State embraces all the ways that together, WE FLY.

Back to MACtion! Senior wideout Justin Hall shows his moves en route to amassing 241 all-purpose yards to help the Cardinals defeat Eastern Michigan, 38–31, on November 11. The win marked the return of action to Scheumann Stadium and moved Ball State to 1–1 in an abbreviated, six-game schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A limited number of students and fans were allowed to cheer on the Cardinals during the 2020 season. Photo by Samantha Blankenship

From the President Winter Passage

A student strolls across a snow-coated bridge that crosses Cardinal Creek between Park Hall and Studebaker Complex.

Our Endeavor to Create and Sustain a More Inclusive Campus Environment Dear Alumni and Friends:

Photo by Bobby Ellis

At Ball State University, inclusive excellence is an enduring value that guides our ability to fulfill our vital mission. In our strategic plan, we define inclusiveness as a commitment “to respect and embrace equity, inclusion, and diversity in people, ideas, and opinions.” Throughout our University’s history, we have embraced this enduring value by creating and nurturing a diverse and inclusive learning, living, and working environment for all members of our campus community. In our second century, we have adopted a more intentional approach to infuse inclusive excellence into every aspect and level of our operations. Our enhanced commitment is reflected in our Inclusive Excellence Plan, which we announced last January. This plan is the first of its kind in the history of our University. The plan’s six goals include improving the diversity of our employees, enhancing support for our diverse students, and creating an institutional infrastructure that supports our progress in achieving the inclusive excellence goals we established in our strategic plan. We are also demonstrating our commitment to inclusiveness in new and expansive ways. For example, last January, our Board of Trustees approved our decision to adopt an updated unifying framework statement that reaffirms our University’s commitment to freedom of expression (p. 40). Our broad commitment to inclusive excellence continues to be recognized at a national level. For the fifth consecutive year, our University received a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity magazine and website in higher education. This streak reflects well on our University’s efforts to foster a welcoming environment with enhanced opportunities for all students to excel. With the theme “We Are One,” this issue of Ball State University Alumni magazine features more examples of our commitment to our enduring value of inclusiveness. These stories include our efforts to provide bias training to students, faculty, and staff (p. 52). We also highlight our roundtable discussion with alumni and campus leaders who share their insights on how Ball State is growing and sustaining a diverse and inclusive learning, living, and working environment (p. 28).

Ball State University Alumni magazine is published twice yearly. University Marketing and Communications Muncie, Indiana 47306 765-285-1560 Printed by EP Graphics, Berne, Indiana. Paper has Chain-ofCustody certification from Forest Stewardship Council. Printer uses ink with soy oil, and all wastepaper and solvents are recycled.


Tim Obermiller


Elizabeth Brooks, ’95 Emily Catron, MA ’18

President’s Cabinet

Jean Crosby, ’96 President of Ball State University Foundation and Vice President of University Advancement Sali Falling, MA ’88 Vice President and General Counsel Alan Finn Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer Beth Goetz Director of Athletics Paula Luff Vice President for Enrollment Planning and Management Loren Malm, ’86 Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Sue Hodges Moore Chief Strategy Officer Becca Polcz Rice Vice President for Governmental Relations

I am grateful to everyone in our campus community — our students, our faculty and staff, our alumni and friends — who are leading us in this important work. Together, we are striving to create a more positive, productive, and inspiring culture for everyone invested in the future of our University.

Susana Rivera-Mills Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs


Kathy Wolf Vice President for Marketing and Communications

Ro-Anne Royer Engle Vice President for Student Affairs

Ball State University

Geoffrey S. Mearns President, Ball State University PresidentMearns

BallState ballstateuniversity officialballstate ballstateuniversity


Winter 2021





34 A History of Friendships

4 News 13 Community

30 Changes for the Better 40 Open Dialogue 42 Evolving One Issue at a Time

20 Arts & Culture

46 Top 10 Ways to Become a Better LGBTQ Ally

24 Sports

48 Preparing Pathways

56 Class Notes

52 A Fresh Perspective Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY




Gold for Green T

his Fall, the Health Professions Building became the seventh structure on campus to earn LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, affirming the University’s commitment toward sustainable construction. “At Ball State, we are committed to creating a brighter future for everyone,” University President Geoffrey S. Mearns said. “That commitment goes beyond education. It includes serving as stewards of our natural resources so that generations to come inherit a healthy Earth.” The 165,000-square-foot Health Professions Building opened in 2019 and is home to Ball State’s College of Health, including classrooms, labs, clinical spaces, community clinics, and more. Eco-friendly features include green roofs, photovoltaic solar panels, an underground storm water retention system, low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient LED lighting, a design that enhances daylight to reduce energy consumption, and geothermal heating and cooling.

Better Preparing First-Year Students A

s a result of a $2.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., Ball State University is developing a program to improve the experience of first-year students. First-Year Flight is funded through a Lilly Endowment initiative to help Indiana’s colleges and universities improve efforts to prepare students for successful futures and strengthen the long-term financial sustainability of their institutions. First-Year Flight will provide: • Preparation programs that help students gain skills to begin college with confidence. • Programming that fosters a greater sense of community, especially for underrepresented students. • Integrated academic and career pathways that guide students to degree programs that align their interests with employment opportunities.

Fine Dining North Dining Hall, the University’s new premier dining location, opened this Fall. The 5,000-square-foot facility serves everything from down-home barbecue to artisanal pastries, and includes a Starbucks. Also opened this Fall just east of Botsford-Swinford Hall was North Residence Hall, home to the new STEM Living-Learning Community.


Winter 2021

• Intentional curriculum planning, in conjunction with proactive, data-informed advising strategies that empower students to complete their credentials and graduate on time. First-Year Flight will increase Ball State’s retention rate and help keep students in school. Photo by Samantha Blankenship

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY




Reaching Higher Ball State’s REACH mentoring program improves student retention.


mong many efforts underway to improve student experiences and retention rates, Ball State’s REACH (Retain, Engage, Aspire, Connect, and Help) one-credit hour course has shown results in helping first-year students transition to the academic, social, personal, and professional challenges of college. Now in its fourth year, REACH’s impact is measurable: About 90% of students who participated in Fall 2019 returned for their sophomore year (nationally, the rate is about 74%). REACH students also tend to have higher GPAs at the end of their first semester, said Bobby Steele, director of Ball State’s Multicultural Center, who teaches the course. Students don’t just learn from Steele; the program pairs freshman with student mentors who have completed the course. “Mentoring programs are common in higher education, but this program is unique,” Steele said. “Being an actual course that’s tied to a leadership minor is uncommon.” “I got really involved in the class,” said Joshua Bumphus, who took REACH his first year. “You take the work and you personalize it toward yourself and your education. It’s not about just getting a grade and moving on.”

An All-Inclusive Effort Ball State’s commitment to a welcoming environment is nationally recognized.


or the fifth consecutive year, Ball State University received a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity magazine and website in higher education. The award recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. “The streak reflects well on our Office of Inclusive Excellence and proves that we are fostering a welcoming environment with enhanced opportunities for students to excel,” President Geoffrey S. Mearns said. Dr. Marsha McGriff, associate vice president for inclusive excellence, said the award reflects how Ball State cultivates an environment where students, faculty, and staff feel like they are a part of a movement, working together to build an inclusive and welcoming campus. “Our academic deans, faculty, staff, and students have wrapped themselves around this work,” McGriff said this Fall. “Their enthusiasm and commitment have elevated a spirit of collegiality and connection at this seminal time in our nation’s history. “The work is not done; there is much more for us to do.”


Winter 2021

Inclusiveness is one of Ball State’s enduring values, and Institutional and Inclusive Excellence is among five ambitious goals in the University’s strategic plan, Destination 2040: Our Flight Path. Initiatives moving inclusiveness from idea to action include the Office of Inclusive Excellence’s collaboration with local law enforcement and Muncie Community Schools to provide professional development about implicit bias, microaggressions, conflict resolution, and de-escalation. Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity, noted that the magazine’s standards are high, and only universities with diversity and inclusion efforts woven into everyday campus life are presented the HEED award. McGriff predicted those efforts will only continue to grow. “Ball State is an exemplar and leader in inclusive excellence in our state and our nation because of the collective efforts of our campus and our community. “We are all partners in this work.”

Palilonis Named Best in MAC


ennifer Palilonis received the inaugural 2020 Mid-American Conference Outstanding Faculty Award for Student Success. The award recognized her work shepherding the next generation of communication professionals. Palilonis is the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia Journalism and founding director of the Center for Emerging Media Design and Development. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ball State. “Receiving an award for student success is probably one of the greatest honors of my career,” Palilonis said. “The truth is that my students — their hard work, their commitment to excellence, and their trust in me — make me look good. I am so proud and grateful to have the honor of working with them in and outside the classroom.” “Putting student learning first is an institutional priority, not just a personal goal,” she added. “So, I share this honor with the whole campus, and especially with the immediate colleagues with whom I collaborate every day.”

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY




Dignity for the Dead Archaeological research at a state hospital will help honor those who died with mental illness.

A horizontal cross section of a human brain at the Indiana Medical History Museum.


Winter 2021


etween 1848 and 1905, Central State Hospital buried hundreds of deceased patients in an acre-sized rectangle on its sprawling grounds located west of downtown Indianapolis. The people buried there — coming from all areas of Indiana — died while in the care of the hospital, having suffered from a myriad of mental illnesses. Some were Civil War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Others contracted syphilis before the age of antibiotics, and the disease spread to their brains. Many were elderly people with dementia. “The families dropped their loved ones off and they became wards of the state,” said Jeannie Regan-Dinius, ’93, a public history major at Ball State and now an historian for the State of Indiana who oversees cemetery preservation efforts. In the mid-20th century, Central State Hospital administrators removed any markers from this section of the cemetery for reasons that aren’t clear. Today, the cemetery looks like a small pasture with ankle-high grass, surrounded by chain-link fence. There’s not even a sign to mark the presence of graves. Over several days this past Summer, Kevin Nolan, Ball State’s senior archaeologist and director of its Applied Anthropology Laboratories (AAL), was among those hard at work on this anonymous acreage. Wearing a facemask, rancher hat, and high-visibility

pink T-shirt, he appeared at first glance to be pushing a lawnmower back and forth. In fact, it was a ground-penetrating radar connected to software capable of mapping underground anomalies. In this case, it mapped the metal hardware that held together each buried wooden casket.

A voice to the voiceless With this technology, Ball State archaeologists hope to identify where and how many of the deceased hospital patients are buried there as well as precisely determine the cemetery’s boundaries. “This project is about giving a voice back to the voiceless,” said AAL staff archaeologist Erin Powers, who leads the project. “It’s about helping marginalized and underserved communities.” The cemetery is on land managed by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Mounted Horse Patrol, and this work is part of a larger project of the Indiana Medical History Museum, which is housed in the hospital’s former pathology laboratory. Sarah Halter, the museum’s executive director, hopes to use the AAL data to eventually install new markers, albeit without names, to identify individual grave sites, and post interpretive signage to help explain the cemetery’s history to visitors. Another possibility is that the museum will post a single

marker listing the names of everyone identified in records as having been buried at the site. “We’ll never know who is buried where,” she said. “But this is really about rehumanizing the patients.”

Best intentions In the 1920s, about 2,000 people lived on the hospital’s 160-acre grounds known for ornate Victorian buildings and idyllic gardens. The design was influenced by what historians call “The Moral Treatment Movement,” a period of optimism among medical practitioners who thought that proper rest, occupational therapy, and humane treatment could cure those suffering from mental illness. “It wasn’t just a hope on their part. It did improve care for many and outcomes for some,” Halter said. “It just wasn’t enough.” Lacking modern medicine and adequate financial support from the state of Indiana, most people didn’t get better. Central State and other hospitals eventually grew overcrowded. Optimism gave way to corruption and mismanagement, and the quality of care declined. The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 and the development of psychotropic medications resulted in more outpatient care. By the 1970s, most of the beautiful buildings on the grounds were razed, having fallen into disrepair. And in 1994, after years of decline, the hospital closed. The museum opened in 1969, with a mission to explain the beginnings of scientific psychiatry and modern medicine in an historic setting. It is known, in part, for its extensive collection of anatomical specimens — mostly brains in jars and skeletons. Each was removed from a deceased patient with permission from surviving family members for the purpose of medical study. For much of its existence, the museum lacked adequate representation of patients’ lives and experiences. As a result, the museum has recently undergone an overhaul to give context to its collection and show respect to those who lived at Central State. Now, for example, each specimen includes a sign identifying the owner and relating his or her story. The cemetery partnership with Ball State, Halter said, is part of this larger effort. With all the recent improvements at the museum and planned enhancements of the cemetery, the goal is to help normalize and destigmatize mental illness. “It’s about fostering compassion,” she said. “These people buried here were human, just like us.” — Nick Werner, ’03

(Top) Archaeologist Kevin Jones pushes a ground-penetrating radar through a gravesite at the former grounds of Central State Hospital. (Middle) Ball State senior archaeologist Kevin Nolan, left, and staff archaeologist Erin Powers, right, review radar data. (Bottom) The women’s ward was known as Seven Steeples for its unique architecture. It was demolished in the 1970s.

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


News The Path Ahead Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed Sharon Bowman, chair of Counseling Psychology, Social Psychology, and Counseling, to the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission.


The reimagined Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute is led by Dr. Mike Goldsby, Stoops Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship. This Fall, The Princeton Review ranked Ball State 28th among the nation’s top 50 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs.

The commission makes recommendations on issues related to the overall improvement of the behavioral and mental health of Indiana residents. Dr. Bowman’s work is focused on diversity, disaster and trauma psychology, and in mentoring and supervision. She is also a disaster mental health counselor with the American Red Cross.

Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders Institutes’ funding enhances student focus on innovation and prosperity.

B “My end goal is to lay the path for those coming behind me. I want to grow the next generation of leaders.” —Dr. Sharon Bowman


Winter 2021

all State is enhancing its efforts to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators for leadership roles by reimagining an existing center and creating a second one to focus on how organizations promote prosperity. The institutes initiative received $5 million in grant funding from the Menard family and $1.55 million from the Charles Koch Foundation. The University’s Miller College of Business recently introduced the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) — derived from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise — to focus on helping learners become innovators and leaders, while the new Institute for the Study of Political Economy (ISPE) will study the role of economic and political institutions in promoting prosperity. “We are pleased to partner with the Menard family, and the Charles Koch Foundation,” Provost Susana Rivera-Mills said. “This funding benefits our students, creating learning opportunities to provide them with the skills and competencies desired by employers.” During its September 18 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the naming rights for new meeting and training rooms and a speaker

series as a result of grant funding from the Menard family. “Similar to all grants we receive, the University will maintain independent control of the programming and operations of the institutes,” Provost Rivera-Mills said. “Academic integrity is a key pillar in our efforts to provide an excellent educational experience for our students, and it promotes diverse thinking and teaching by faculty on our campus.” She noted Ball State’s proposals for these new institutes align with the University’s strategic plan, Destination 2040: Our Flight Path, by improving the student experience, developing partnerships that revitalize and sustain Muncie and the region, supporting and promoting faculty research, and fostering a vibrant campus culture through diversity of thought. ELI is led by Dr. Mike Goldsby, Ball State’s Chief Entrepreneurship Officer and the Stoops Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, and Institute Executive Director Dr. Rob Mathews. ISPE is led by Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise Dr. Steve Horwitz and Assistant Professor of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Economics Dr. Todd Nesbit.

Ball State Sports Link Expands Students in the nationally renowned Sports Link program are now able to produce more live programming as a result of major expansion. Enhancements include new edit stations, more collaborative spaces, a conference room, and a studio to originate live social media and other programming. The expansion allows Sports Link to grow in its mission to elevate, educate, and empower students.

Legacies Preserved A

s the largest repository of historic design artifacts in Indiana, Ball State’s Drawings and Documents Archives contain more than 130,000 original architecture, landscape, planning, and engineering projects, including drawings, photos, documents, models, and building remnants. A gift from its first director, Professor Emeritus of Architecture Andrew Seager, will ensure that the archives continue to inspire the design ideas of generations of students and provide guidance to historic preservation efforts across the state. Located inside the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning and jointly administered with University Libraries, the archives are getting a new name, too: The Andrew R. Seager Archives of the Indiana Built Environment. “To know the archives are being taken care of was my main concern,” said Seager. “Having my name on it wasn’t. But I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to support it.”

Read more about the Seager Archives at Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY



Minding the Fort Alumni give retired U.S. Army post a new life. “The job is such a good fit with my skill set: a mix of planning with a little economic development, a little preservation, a little community development, and a lot of promotion.” — Aletha Dunston


f all goes according to plan, Aletha Dunston, ’05, will be out of a job soon. Her position as executive director of the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority means every win brings her closer to completing the assignment of a lifetime: transforming an Army base into a picturesque community 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis. Dunston, an urban planning and development major at Ball State, doesn’t worry about her impending unemployment. “The job is such a good fit with my skill set: a mix of planning with a little economic development, a little preservation, a little community development, and a lot of promotion,” she said. After military base realignments, Fort Benjamin Harrison (known as Fort Ben) was inactivated in the early 1990s. The Reuse Authority was then established, headed by a board that included representatives of Lawrence, a city of 49,000 surrounded by Marion County, where the fort is located. The original plan reuse included preservation of 100 historic buildings including the officers’ quarters as well as a 1,700-acre state park and space for both residential and business uses. In her role, Dunston follows two other Ball State urban planning alumni whose influence shaped the fort’s redevelopment efforts. When Ehren Bingaman, ’99, became executive director of the Fort Ben project in 2004, he saw great potential in the project to better create a sense of place and community.

Enter Adam Thies, who graduated a year behind Bingaman. A new master plan submitted by Thies’ firm created a unified sense of place, with a mix of single-family homes, brick townhouses, and parks as well as shops, offices, restaurants, and coffee shops. “We let the property help us decide,” Bingaman says. “We used what was there because that was part of what made it unique.” In 2007, both moved on. Bingaman is now principal at TransPro Consulting in Atlanta and Thies is associate vice president of capital planning at Indiana University. Their departure left the fort’s transformation in capable hands — including Dunston’s. Two and a half years into Dunston’s tenure as executive director, less than 20 acres of undeveloped land remained, and she was in conversations with developers interested in half of it. In presentations, Dunston touts coming amenities such as an amphitheater, a public library, and bus service to and from downtown. A symbol of Fort Ben’s rebirth came in June as Dunston accepted the Rising Tech City Mira award recognizing the hub of almost 30 tech companies within a half square mile in the core of Fort Ben’s campus. Dunston says she is grateful for every day that brings her mission closer to completion. And when that finale comes, she’ll be looking for new challenges while treasuring some amazing memories. — Christine Noel Rhine

Adam Thies, ’00

Aletha Dunston, ’05

Ehren Bingaman, ’99

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY




Muncie Named “All-America City”

Health Empowered


Burmese refugee moms helped by texts.

uncie has been recognized as one of 10 All-America City award winners. Since 1949, the National Civic League has recognized and celebrated the best in American civic innovation with the prestigious award. The honor recognizes Muncie’s work in inclusive civic engagement to address health and well-being and create stronger connections among residents, businesses, and nonprofit and government leaders. Finalist communities made presentations virtually to a jury of national thought-leaders, showing how their community leverages civic

engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness, and innovation to successfully address issues. Among programs cited was a Teachers College collaboration with Muncie’s Whitely Neighborhood to develop a groundbreaking teacher preparation program called “Schools Within the Context of Community.” This multidisciplinary, immersive program prepares socially-just, equity-focused teachers by providing them with unique opportunities to understand the complex contexts in which children are growing and learning.

The Office of Community Engagement serves as a bridge between the University and Muncie, Delaware County, and east central Indiana. To learn more go to

Encouraging Words C

ustodian Steve Smith earned Ball State University’s Presidential Medal of Distinction for welcoming a homesick student to campus and helping motivate him to succeed. Smith received the honor from University President Geoffrey S. Mearns at the Fall 2020 Convocation. In Fall 2015, Smith developed a friendship with a freshman from northern Indiana. Living on his own for the first time in DeHority Complex, the new student struggled with the transition to college. His parents worried about him dropping out. Smith would ask the student about his day and encourage him. The student graduated in Spring 2019 with honors and a degree in computer science. “This is in my nature, and it comes from my parents,” Smith said. “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”


Winter 2021


wo Ball State University professors are developing a text-based messaging service to provide information about maternal and child health to Burmese refugees now living in Indianapolis. The project, which is under the direction of Mengxi Zhang and Jean Marie Place, health science professors in Ball State’s College of Health, will provide tailored health information with around 500 text messages translated into two commonly spoken Burmese languages within the Indianapolis Burmese community: Hakha Chin and Burmese. By August 31, 2021, plans call for the system to be used among at least 100 women. About 19,000 Burmese refugees reside in Indianapolis. “A significant number of refugees are within the childbearing years, indicating an increased need for maternal and child health-care services culturally tailored to this population,” Zhang said. The project will increase the women’s knowledge about maternal and infant health. The goal is for the women to adopt recommended health behaviors such as safe sleep, breastfeeding, starting prenatal care early, and timely postpartum check-ups.

Fresh and Affordable Immersive project delivered local produce amid pandemic.

T Learn more about Ball State immersive learning at

he Muncie Food Hub Partnership started with an ambitious, if not daunting, objective: help stop hunger in the Muncie area. A pandemic wasn’t going to get in the way of that effort. Formed in 2016 as an immersive learning project, the food hub operates as a nonprofit that connects produce from farmers to Muncie residents in food deserts.

Photo courtesy of Mengxi Zhang and Jean Marie Place

One component is the Mobile Farmers Market (MFM), which was developed to help get fresh and healthy local food to Muncie residents. The farmers market purchases produce from area farmers and sells it at affordable prices in low-income and low-foodaccess areas of the city. As the MFM wrapped up its second season, the students gained additional experience in food safety, taking every precaution possible to protect everyone’s health, according to project adviser Josh Gruver, an associate professor and assistant chair in the Department of Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources. “This year we’re dealing with COVID-19,” he said, “and it has really been an interesting process, particularly with the teaching process.” That has meant cleaning cold storage, their trailer, all of their food crates — anything the food touches — all while making sure the students are taking all the necessary safety precautions for themselves. “There’s a lot to think about in terms of keeping people safe and keeping the food safe,” Gruver said, “but we’re doing everything we can.” With similar objectives, the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Ball State partnered with Second Harvest Food Pantry for two food drives at several campus locations in November. Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY




The Power of Language Immersive class promotes dual language program in Muncie schools.


hird-grader Ryder Hawkins regularly helps his teenage brother, Javonte, with his Spanish homework. The two often compete to see who can count higher or say phrases faster in the world’s second-most spoken language. For Ryder, Spanish has been a second language since kindergarten, when he enrolled in Muncie Community Schools’ Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program at West View Elementary. Javonte is taking his first Spanish course as a sophomore at Muncie Central High School. Kelsey Pavelka, the second-grade teacher in the dual language program, said she is not surprised Ryder is able to guide his older brother, as roughly 80% of Ryder’s day has been taught in Spanish since kindergarten. Starting in fourth grade, the program shifts to 50% Spanish and follows students until they graduate from high school. This model allows Ryder to become bilingual, biliterate, and culturally competent, Pavelka added. Pavelka, who grew up in Puerto Rico, said the benefits of bilingual education span beyond the acquisition of language and cultural understanding. She referenced research that demonstrates students in dual language programs develop greater cognitive flexibility, compared to their English-only counterparts. “Dual language students are more willing to dive in, take risks and try to figure out what’s going on,” said Pavelka. “Whereas students who don’t have that cognitive flexibility are often more hesitant.” Since Muncie Community Schools (MCS) launched the program in 2017, Pavelka and her colleagues have worked with the district to promote the DLI program, but she said it’s difficult to find time to advocate the program on top of full-time teaching.

Promoting community awareness To help support their efforts, Ball State Associate Professor of Spanish Chin-Sook Pak is guiding 17 students in a capstone Spanish course to create a booklet to promote the program among both families and educators. The class researched, designed, and produced the booklet to showcase the benefits of the program in both Spanish and English. MCS

will distribute it digitally and in print to the Muncie community in January. “It’s the only program of its kind in Muncie,” Pak said. “Every child in public school should be given [the] right to learn a foreign language.” Justin Persinger, a senior Spanish education major in Pak’s class, said he hopes to teach Spanish after graduation. He said the experience — both creating the booklet and learning about Muncie’s DLI program — has helped him see how he can adapt his future classroom to fit his students’ language needs. In addition to improving their attention and memory as well as more creativity and problem-solving skills, bilingualism opens up job opportunities for students, said Kathy Ramos, a first-grade DLI teacher at West View. Bilingual individuals have “an advantage against other applicants” for scholarships, educational opportunities and jobs. It also prepares them to navigate in a global economy. “A dual language education teaches students to navigate cultures and become comfortable with people who are different, a concept called sociocultural competency, which is one of our program’s three core pillars,” said Ramos, who previously taught English as a second language at Ball State. “We are not in a huge or diverse area. So, having a program that makes sure [students] are introduced to diversity will help broaden them and prepare them for a more a global experience.” Second-grader Dean Werner has studied Spanish for three years in the DLI program. His mom, Gail Werner, ’04, said she enrolled Dean in the program so he could embrace cultural diversity inside and outside of the classroom. The program teaches Dean to do this through lessons like educating students about holidays around the world. “I feel joy from hearing my son talk in a second language,” Werner said. “Even with his limited vocabulary at the age he is, he already sounds more like a native Spanish speaker than I was after three years of high school Spanish.” — Liz Rieth, ’21

Ryder Hawkins, a student at West View Elementary, excels in learning the world’s second-most spoken language. Dual language students “are more willing to dive in, take risks and try to figure out what’s going on,” says teacher Kelsey Pavelka. Photo courtesy of Char Hawkins

6 Benefits of Learning Second Language For the majority of the world, bilingualism is the norm. In the United States, only 20% of the population speaks a language other than English in the home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet, being bilingual can impact speakers in several positive ways. According to the Foreign Language Annals, a peer-reviewed quarterly magazine, bilingualism: 1. Increases job opportunities. 2. Makes speakers more culturally aware and competent. 3. Allows speakers to be more creative than monolinguals. 4. Improves abilities like organizing, attention span and memory retention.

To learn more about the program, visit dual_language_program.

5. Equips speakers with larger vocabularies in both languages than a monolingual has in one. Photo courtesy of Jordan Kartholl and The Star Press


Winter 2021

6. Offsets dementia or Alzheimer’s by five years.

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY




If people with disabilities “can negotiate four years of living and learning on a college campus, they can conquer any challenge life throws at them,” says Dr. Courtney Jarrett.

Challenges Accepted N “What we are asking is for people with disabilities to have a seat at the table.” — Gregory Fehribach, ’81 MA ’83, Distinguished Fellow in Inclusive Excellence


Winter 2021

o matter how a new Ball State University graduate with a disability gets across the Commencement stage — by wheelchair, cane, or with a guide dog — Dr. Courtney Jarrett, ’04 MA ’07 EdD ’12, watches, proudly knowing the best chapter of their lives has started. “It brings me great joy to watch my students graduate and go on to be great people and have fulfilling careers.” Under her guidance, hundreds of students with a variety of physical challenges have arrived on campus looking for their place among their peers. They leave campus prepared to make a difference in their chosen fields. At the same time, their classmates benefit from seeing how much persons with disabilities can achieve and how different abilities cultivate different but powerful strengths. “I’m passionate about equality for everyone,” said Jarrett. “Many people with disabilities are often discouraged from going to college. But, if they can negotiate four years of

living and learning on a college campus, they can conquer any challenge life throws at them.” Since she was named director three years ago, Jarrett has helped galvanized the University’s already nationally renowned efforts to assist students with disabilities. As a result, Ball State was recently ranked sixth among College Magazine’s “Top 10 Universities for Students with Disabilities.” In its August 2020 issue, the magazine listed colleges and universities that go above and beyond to make the transition to college life easier for students with disabilities. For its list, the magazine measures factors such as accessible dorms, classrooms and transportation, as well as a campus environment that advocates for awareness and inclusion for those students. Among factors singled out by College Magazine was Ball State customizing its website for “specific subsections for different disabilities, meaning a student with a learning disability won’t need to open a billion tabs to find the right one.”

A natural home The University’s efforts to make the campus accessible to students with any type of diversity is widely known throughout the Midwest. This reputation made the campus a natural home for Savannah Bassett, a senior from Fort Wayne, Indiana, who is majoring in finance, with minors in financial planning and leadership studies. “This [College Magazine] award is fantastic but it’s not the first time I’ve seen Ball State on a list for having strong services for students with disabilities,” said the 22-year-old, who wears hearing aids as a result of significant auditory loss in both ears. “This place has changed my life and it’s all because the University is dedicated to helping all its students — not just those with a disability. But, it’s nice to have these services here because we need them.” Bassett is herself a strong advocate for students with disabilities through her leadership of the Alliance for Disability Awareness (ADA). A Ball State student group that promotes awareness about disability issues, ADA plans and co-sponsors various events throughout the school year. After graduation, Bassett plans to start a career in the banking industry thanks to a Ball State connection. She enrolled in an internship with Chase Bank through the Gregory S. Fehribach Center, named after the Ball State graduate, former member of the University’s Board of Trustees, and Indianapolis attorney who works to increase employment opportunities for students with physical disabilities throughout central Indiana. “When I was in high school, it took me filling out eight job applications just to get someone to hire me because of my disability,” Bassett said. “That all changed because people like

Greg saw my potential, giving me experiences to better conquer the world as a woman with a disability.”

Collaboration throughout campus Ball State’s efforts to support students with disabilities dates back to the late 1960s. Now, the University serves about 1,300 individuals annually with a variety of services, including a mentorship program, free confidential counseling sessions, self-help tools, online articles, and other resources. “What makes Ball State standout is the collaboration across units through the campus,” Jarrett said. “We’re known for being a really physically accessible campus, and we work closely with Facilities Planning and Management to make sure we are doing the best we can in that area. We also work closely with Housing and Residence Life along with Dining Services for those students who live on campus and may need accommodations to live and eat here.” Jarrett said the University is also noted for helping students transition into college. Ball State’s Faculty Mentorship Program allows faculty to work one-on-one with firsttime freshmen students with disabilities, providing personalized assistance and a better understanding of academic challenges. “We’ve done research that shows those students are retained at a higher level than students with disabilities that don’t participate. I talk with colleagues all over Indiana and the nation who have or want to copy our mentoring model,” said Jarrett. “But, while we have done a good job, we still have a long way to go. I want to make this campus the number one college for these students. They deserve it.”— Marc Ransford, ’83 MA ’07

“This place has changed my life and it’s all because the University is dedicated to helping all its students — not just those with a disability.” —Savannah Bassett

Pioneers of Inclusion Providing access for those with disabilities has a long history at Ball State. That history traces back to Ralph Whitinger, ’29, for whom the business building is named. An accountant for the Ball family and a wheelchair user, Whitinger insisted that the University begin a program to install ramps and other design elements for the non-ambulatory. Another pioneer, Barbara Hansen (shown right), was the first licensed Indiana teacher in a wheelchair. A paraplegic since age 18, she got a B.S. in education from Ball State in 1963 and later earned a Ph.D. and joined the English faculty at Ball State.

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Art of Glass Marking its 10th anniversary this Spring, The Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass, part of Ball State University’s School of Art, has achieved statewide and national recognition. Here are some highlights:

To learn more, visit the Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass’s website at art/glickcenter.

• T he center supports broad-based, dynamic undergraduate and graduate curriculums in contemporary glass, as well as community outreach and education about the glass arts. • In the center’s design, key elements of the glass artist’s process were considered for its hot, warm, torch, and cold process studios, including space and ventilation. • Ball State offers the only program in Indiana granting BFA and MFA degrees in glass. • T hough temporarily closed due to COVID concerns, the front-atrium exhibition space has large viewing windows that allow groups to watch artists working in the hot shop. • Like many buildings on campus, the center features geothermal heating and cooling. • T he center houses 42 acquisitions from Newfields, formerly The Indianapolis Museum of Art, that allow students to engage firsthand with objects made by recognized artists in the field. • Marilyn K. Glick, for whom the center is named, developed one of the most notable collections of studio glass artwork in the country. The collection is now part of Newfields’ permanent collection. Glick, who lost her battle with cancer in 2012 at the age of 90, is remembered as one of the state’s most generous philanthropists. • P rogram graduates include Ben Johnson, who chairs the Glass Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art; Dylan Martinez, who is represented by major galleries and is constructing his own glass studio; and James Labold, who maintains a studio in Philadelphia and whose works have been featured in prestigious glass publications.

A Vote of Their Own T

Advancing the cause of women’s right, the McCrae Club was formed in honor of Emma Montgomery McRae, a Muncie reformer and innovator.

20 Winter 2021

his year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women a constitutional right to vote in the United States. Muncie and members of the University’s namesake family played critical roles in pushing for women’s suffrage in Indiana, according to Ball State suffrage expert Melissa Gentry. Gentry, ’92, is the Map Collection supervisor in Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection, where she provides

instruction programs and curates special exhibits at Ball State University and the Muncie community. The multimedia maps she creates adeptly combine history with geography. For her latest project, in partnership with the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, Gentry is mapping key locations in the Hoosier suffrage movement. According to Gentry, east central Indiana was really where the suffragist movement in Indiana was born. “Many of the women were Quakers located near Richmond,” Gentry said. “Originally, the leaders were speaking about abolition, but it evolved into women’s rights and suffrage.” The Women’s Franchise League of Muncie formed in 1912, and among the first people to join were Ball family women: Bessie Brady Ball, Bertha Crosley Ball, Emma Wood Ball, Sarah Rogers Ball, and her daughter Helen. They

hosted suffrage meetings in their homes and supported the organization financially. But it wasn’t just the Ball women. Many of the Ball men supported suffrage, also. Sarah Rogers Ball’s husband, Lucius, one of the five original Ball Brothers, was himself a member of the Franchise League. “This history just isn’t taught,” Gentry said. “This year there is a lot more public programming around suffrage. But the percentage of women mentioned in history textbooks is bleak. Historic women have just been overlooked.” Gentry is working with a group from the Delaware County Historical Society called Notable Women of Muncie to create public programming, and now it has expanded into an Instagram account and webpage. Ultimately, they want to create a Munciespecific walking tour of suffrage history that users can access on their smartphone. — Nick Werner, ’03

Research Results Melissa Gentry, above, sees many applications for her research, including a Munciespecific walking tour of suffrage history. Photo by Mallory Huxford, courtesy of The Daily News

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Arts & Culture

Here are some amazing results from last year’s record-breaking One Ball State Day!

Virtual Museum Opens Doors The David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State expands its reach through online collection.



Top Left: Portrait of a Lady, about 1520, Domenico Puligo, 16th century, oil painting, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Thompson Top Right: Buddha, China, 7th-10th century, carved stone with polychrome, Gift of David T. Owsley Bottom: Spanish Dancers, 1928, Betty Esman, 20th century, oil painting, Gift of Betty Esman Samuels and Vernon A. Samuels

he David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA) has been a source of both education and enjoyment on the Ball State University campus for decades. Now the museum is sharing the wealth of its collection online. Visitors can view many of their favorite works of art and learn about others by using DOMA’s collection search page. The online collection allows guests to browse an initial catalogue of more than 1,000 objects from the museum’s collection. The site is continually updated with new information and additional works of art from the museum’s permanent collection of more than 11,000 works from six continents representing 5,000 years of civilization. Through its custom search page, DOMA is now able to share its art collection with students, researchers, other art museums, and art lovers both locally and globally. The new online collection was made possible by a grant from the Ball Brothers Foundation (BBF) and the Class of 1935 Endowment in support of widening the museum’s public reach. “It is rare for a city our size to have such a world-class collection of art, and digitizing the collection will reinforce Muncie as a center of arts and culture in the Midwest and beyond,” said Jud Fisher, BBF President & COO. “We are grateful to the DOMA team for their hard work to make this project possible.” Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, viewers can browse through a number of portfolios of thematically selected works, such as landscapes or portraits. They can search more specifically by artist, medium, and century, among others, as well as through a search feature at the top of each page where terms such as “furniture” and “African” yield quick results. “The online collection is the fruit of a greater effort to update the museum’s digital foundation through a new collection management system, which makes images and data about the museum’s treasures available for educational purposes,” said Robert La France, DOMA’s director. To view the DOMA online collection, visit


Winter 2021



$534,000 given

Gifts from

! E T A D E H T E V 1 2 0 SA 2 , 6 L I R P A

ALL 50 STATES & 5 countries

Theatre & Dance Most gifts among academic departments

Field Hockey

Most gifts from Athletics

6 regional and national awards for fundraising excellence



Pitch Perfect Senior Alyssa Rothwell excels in her twin passions: softball and teaching.


rom a very young age, senior Alyssa Rothwell knew she wanted to be a teacher. “I remember playing ‘school’ with all the neighborhood kids at our house, and I would make up quizzes, assign seats, and pretty much run the show,” Rothwell recalled with a laugh. Rothwell is an early childhood education major doing her student teaching with kindergartners at Eaton, Indiana, Elementary School. She’s also one of the most dominating pitchers in Cardinal softball history, owning the Ball State and Mid-American Conference career record with 28 saves. She also ranks first in program history with a 7.50 strikeouts per 7.0 inning ratio. Rothwell is all too familiar with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic since the softball

team’s 2020 schedule was cancelled after a few weeks. But it had surprisingly little impact on her students. “Wearing masks and staying apart is just natural for them since this is the only school environment they know,” she said. “It wasn’t really the big adjustment I might have been expecting.” Rothwell admits that she was a bit “nervous” before starting her student teaching assignment but credits her Ball State education for having her well-prepared. “My hope is that I will positively influence the lives of many young students for years to come,” she said. “I think you have to be confident to be a teacher, and my professors at Ball State gave that to me. I couldn’t have asked for a better education.” — Dan Forst, ’85

“I’m a pitcher, so I need to stay calm in the situations I’m put into, which can be extremely hard to do when you’re playing sports.” —Alyssa Rothwell

“I am teaching kindergarten kids and a few of them have asked me about my softball career at Ball State,” Rothwell said. “It’s fun to share a bit of that with them and help them try to understand you can do just about anything if you put your mind to it.”

Remembering a True Cardinal The Scheumann name became synonymous with Ball State athletics. Scheumann Fast Facts


As a kid, he delivered newspapers and ran a lawn mowing business. After college he took a job with National Homes where he discovered he had a passion for the homebuilding industry.


John was a lifelong Lafayette, Indiana, resident. Graduating from Jefferson High School in 1967, he continued to avidly support his hometown and both alma maters throughout his life.


The 2007 renovation of Scheumann Stadium increased its capacity to 22,500 and added permanent lighting for night games. Overall, Scheumann Stadium has seen 16 crowds of over 20,000 fans.

Photo by Samantha Blankenship

24 Winter 2021


ongtime University supporter John Scheumann, age 71, died October 1, 2020. Scheumann Stadium, home of Cardinals football, was named to honor him and his wife, June, for their $4 million lead gift to the campaign to enlarge and improve the facility. The couple also contributed the lead gift for the Scheumann Family Indoor Practice Facility scheduled to open in the Summer of 2021. Previously, the couple donated $1 million toward the construction of the Fisher Football Training Complex, as well as another $700,000 for the installation of an artificial surface facility used by both the football and field hockey teams starting in 1997. A defensive back for the 1969 and 1970 football teams, John graduated with an accounting degree in 1971 and worked in the housing industry before co-founding Crossmann Communities in Indianapolis, which grew to become America’s 12th-largest homebuilder and earned a spot among Forbes magazine’s “200 Best Small Companies in America” for three consecutive years. Ball State honored John with the President’s Medal of Distinction (2010), the Distinguished Alumni Award (1998), and the Miller College of Business Alumni Award of Distinction (2001). Calling him “the embodiment of the enduring values of Beneficence,” President Geoffrey S. Mearns and Director of Athletics

Beth Goetz lauded John in a joint statement. “John helped transform the lives of so many Ball State students. … John’s extraordinary generosity provides our students with the facilities and the resources that enable them to excel.” Football Head Coach Mike Neu, ’94, recalled John’s “genuine interest in our team. He would study our roster and know our depth chart inside and out. He would be there as we came out of the locker room to take the field before games. It was always clear dating back to his days wearing the Cardinal and White that Ball State was a priority in his life.”

Scheumann Stadium

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY




P U G N I L E V E L ity n on new vars fu s u o ri e s e Students hav


o say the varsity sports playing field has changed would be an understatement. It has literally entered a new realm. Last Summer, Ball State created a 40-member varsity esports team. That’s in addition to a student club, Cardinal Esports, which boasts 500 members. The varsity esports team connects Ball State with more than 300 colleges and universities already competing nationally in the burgeoning esports field. For those less familiar, esports is a form of sports competition involving video games. Annually, it attracts about 5 million viewers worldwide. Esports jobs nearly doubled in the first half of 2019 compared with the first half of 2018. Esports revenues were expected to grow to $125 billion in 2020.

. esports team

Last Fall, Ball State joined 11 other MidAmerican Conference members in the 2020–21 season of the newly created Esports Collegiate Conference (ECC). As conference participants, Ball State varsity team members compete at playing the video games Rocket League, Overwatch, and League of Legends. Championship winners become eligible for national competitions. “League of Legends is the most popular video game in the world right now,” said Alex Kartman, ’11 MA ’13, an associate lecturer of telecommunications who serves as the liaison between Ball State and ESC. “Students in the Cardinal Esports club can cheer on the varsity esports players, and vice versa.”

Visit Cardinal Esports on Facebook.

Varsity esports member and music media production major Wayne Uhlenhake appreciates the show of school spirit. He regards playing League of Legends as a means of connecting with a larger community. “I made great friends playing the game, but also realized that I could be a good competitor,” Uhlenhake said. “The one thing Ball State has proven with its support of an esports program is that it’s willing to offer resources ahead of the tides of change.” To serve as esports program director, coach, mentor, and educator, Ball State tapped Dan Marino, founder and former commissioner of Owlet esports, a community-based tournament for amateur players. “Both Ball State University and I understand what college esports should be — a medium for student development,” said Marino, who also launched an esports program at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. “Our varsity team makes Ball State even more attractive to high-achieving students around the nation,” said Paaige Turner, dean of Ball State’s College of Communication,

Information, and Media. “The initiative enhances academic offerings by bringing esports experiences to multiple disciplines, from digital sports production, business and computer sciences, animation, and sports administration.” Kartman, who also serves as director of Sports Production and overseer of CCIM’s Sports Link program, echoes those sentiments. “Now we are able to recruit students and let them live out their passions in a more organized capacity. It’s an opportunity to find new tech outlets for students to develop valuable talents.” As an example of esports putting students on the road to success, Kartman mentioned Drew Adamson, a ’15 Ball State Sports Link alum, now the broadcast director of, an online motorsport racing simulation. Adamson produced the first eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Event on FOX. “It had over 900,000 viewers, making it the most watched esports program in TV history,” Kartman said. — By Ball State Marketing and Communications staff

“Between our shared values and Ball State’s commitment to excellence in all areas, the decision to join the University was an easy one.” —Dan Marino

Climbing the Ranks Given the growing popularity of video gaming among college students in the U.S., Ball State couldn’t have picked a better time to enter the esports arena. During the pandemic, players can compete from their dorm rooms and still learn valuable life lessons. “You cannot underestimate the skill of other people,” said Alex Hornbach, esports varsity player. “You must put in the time to climb the ranks.” “Giving students opportunities to participate in varsity esports through different disciplinary lenses is key to building a strong and stable program,” said Dan Marino, Ball State esports director. “This will give students skills and experiences they can use both in class and out.” Photos by Samantha Blankenship


Winter 2021

Cassidy Jerke a.k.a. Casseroles Team: Overwatch

Devin Welch a.k.a. Dyster Team: Rocket League

Jullian Thomas a.k.a. Gatormelon Team: Rocket League

Alex Hornbach a.k.a. Hornbach Team: Overwatch

Wayne Uhlenhake a.k.a. Manamelon Team: League of Legends

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Photos by Bobby Ellis

“The Beneficence Pledge is a pledge this institution has embraced. That is a major piece of the difference I see happening here. I have seen the growth and compassion from our deans and our faculty, from our students and staff. It’s all around us, so we can’t help but embrace it.” — Teresa Jeter, MA ’95

“My hope is not that people say, ‘I don’t see color, or orientation or gender.’ But instead, to say, ‘No, I see your color, your identity, your gender, your dimensions of difference, and I readily embrace them and celebrate them.’” — Jonathan Scott, ’05

A VALUE AND A MISSION How inclusive excellence is guiding Ball State toward an even brighter future.

As President Geoffrey S. Mearns kicked off the first of four roundtables planned on the topic of inclusive excellence at Ball State University, he reminded listeners what the term meant. “Inclusive excellence as an enduring value guides our ability to fulfill our vital mission by nurturing a diverse and inclusive learning, living, and working environment for all members of our campus community.” Mearns moderated the talk, focused on “our past, present, and future in terms of this important work.” Panelists included three alumni: Teresa Jeter, MA ’95, assistant professor of urban planning; Renae Conley, ’80 MBA ’82, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees; and Jonathan Scott, ’05, digital strategy manager for Eli Lilly and Company. Marsha McGriff, who oversees the Office of Inclusive Excellence, added her perspectives. —Tim Obermiller

28 Winter 2021

Watch this and future roundtables on inclusive excellence at inclusiveexcellence.

“We help give our students those tools to be able to learn how to express themselves and to have debate — but not be so angry about it, with everybody going to their own corners, but instead to figure out how to bridge our divides. … We can only be better when we all work together.” — Renae Conley, ’80 MBA ’82

Panelists, above, contributed personal and professional insights on the topic. In coming months, three more roundtables will discuss inclusive excellence from perspectives of faculty and staff, students, and the community.

“Once you have learned and engaged with these words, inclusive excellence, I would say you even have a bigger responsibility to share and enlighten others about their roles, and to see themselves as a part of this great and phenomenal work.” — Marsha McGriff

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY



About the author: Hailing from Avon, Indiana, Tierra Harris is president of the Ball State chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, associate poetry editor of The Broken Plate, a 2019 Tom Keating Writing Competition finalist, and copy editor of The Daily News.

As a new Multicultural Center is being built on campus, a student reflects on what the old center has meant to her growth as a Ball State student. By Tierra Harris, ’22

Editor’s Note: We asked junior journalism major Tierra Harris to share her personal perspective on how the values of inclusive excellence and diversity of thought — symbolized by Ball State’s Multicultural Center — have influenced her college journey. Her essay follows.


rowing up, I was always surrounded by white people, which means I learned to code switch before I knew what that phrase even meant. Like many other Black students, I didn’t have an outlet. As I transitioned to college, I thought it’d be pretty much the same. A predominantly white institution plus higher education usually means more blatant racism, ignorant comments, and being the only Black kid in class, right? But I was wrong. It’s been filled with poetic Black music lectures from Dr. Emily Rutter’s ENG 215 class, endless meetings filled with talented Black artists, and the opportunity to cross paths with

30 Winter 2021

Photo by Bobby Ellis

those who have come before me. Don’t get me wrong, nothing’s perfect; I still might find myself being the only Black kid in a sea of students, but the only difference is now I know I’m not alone. If I had to describe my Ball State experience in one word, it would be “change.” And change is often a slow battle of back and forth — sometimes you have to take a few steps back, and sometimes you lunge forward. Some of my changes hinge on terms like “diversity” and “inclusive excellence.” These are words you hear on campus these days, floating through the hallways, discussed in classrooms, and mapped out in strategic plans. They may just seem like words, but for me they have a deeper meaning. Change has filled the rows of Pruis Hall as Dr. Michael Eric Dyson spoke movingly about Dr. King’s legacy during the MLK Speaker Series. Change crowded the bus last Spring en route to Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, where we would be

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Her experiences at Ball State showed Harris (shown above at the “old” Multicultural Center) that she had what it took to be a strong leader.

“Although the creation and execution of inclusive excellence has come a long way, it doesn’t mean we’re finished.” —Tierra Harris

32 Winter 2021

inspired by the struggles for freedom handed down through history. And it’s held my hand as I navigated this campus in positions I never dreamed of being in.


uring freshman orientation, my friends and I decided to take a walk down on McKinley Avenue to the Multicultural Center. Through the Summer heat, we shared excited visions of what it must be like. Images of School Daze, the 1998 Spike Lee joint about a student experiencing life at a historically Black college — clouded my mind as I crossed the Student Center parking lot. Catching my first glimpse of a tired-looking old house behind a modern, sleek Ball State sign, I stopped in my tracks. Was this it? Fast-forward to October 19, 2019. I found myself walking past a group gathered in the pits near Noyer. There was a ribbon being cut and then I spotted Bobby Steele, director of the Multicultural Center, wearing a big smile. Curious, I stopped to find out what it was all about. What was happening was the groundbreaking for a new Multicultural Center.

Perched on an easel was a color rendering of this new center. When it was President Mearns’ turn to speak, he talked about the reason for the new center’s location, in the heart of the campus. It was a reflection of how diversity and inclusive excellence were now front and center at Ball State University. Learning that this impressive new Multi (as it’s known on campus) would replace the little white house I had come to know, how could I not feel joy? And yet it was there that so many of my positive experiences had occurred, thanks to the people who I met or got to know there. People like Matt Housely, who directs the University’s Admissions diversity efforts and its Summer Scholars program for diverse, college-bound students. As a Summer Scholars graduate, I wanted to share what I’d learned with others and decided to apply for a job with the program. But, when Matt asked me a simple question during our interview, I stumbled. “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” he asked. I sat, befuddled. Matt and the others waited in silence for a response. “Invisibility,” I heard myself blurting out. It sounded as bad to me as it probably did to them. Matt hired me anyway. And that Summer, I learned I was far from invisible. Having the chance to work with some amazing kids, I discovered I was, in fact, a leader. Then there’s Aric Fulton. Always offering a challenge to the world around us, he aided in my growth as not just a leader but as someone who takes control of what they can. After crossing paths many times, he shared his story. A senior journalism education major from northwest Indiana, he was striving to get the degree he knows he deserves, with the dream of one day becoming an administrator in the world of education. Our experiences at the Multi were similar; we both felt the setting wasn’t inviting at first, but adapted our opinions when we learned of the opportunities it offered. I remember one day, in particular, when Aric and I sat across from each other in the Malcolm X Library on the second floor. Books lined the walls as a tall window showcased a glimpse of bright sunshine. Aric pulled out his laptop, balancing it on his crossed legs as he surveyed a blueprint for the new Multicultural Center on his screen. “There’s gonna be people who want to be in that space,” he told me. “There’s gonna be people who feel like this is a space for them.”

At Homecoming 2019, ground was broken for the new Multicultural Center, east of Bracken Library. The $4 million facility will open in 2021. President Geoffrey S. Mearns (shown with Ro-Anne Royer Engle, vice president of Student Affairs) said the location at the heart of campus reflects that inclusive excellence “must always be at the center of all that we do.”

It reminded me that every brick being laid for this new center was also building me up each and every day.


his past Summer, with some encouragement, I reached out to President Mearns about problems on this campus that concerned me. Together, we found solutions. I joined a studentled organization that’s entire presence is built on speaking out about the long-term effects of racism in our society and finding solutions to everyday problems. I became president of the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. I’m now an editor for a nationally-accredited literary magazine. At the same time, I’m still the same kid who once thought she couldn’t do any of those things. Impostor syndrome tries to creep up on me, but with each and every day, I’m reminded that my success is inevitable. That’s the nature of change. It’s true, I still sit in majorly white classrooms, instructed by majorly white professors while learning about majorly white events and icons. But I can say that the Multicultural Center, the Black professors I’ve met, the Black students

I found unity with, have all aided in my growth and made the biggest positive impact on my college journey. As the building nears completion, I am approaching my senior year of college. Somehow, I see myself in those incomplete windows and outlines of doors — still under construction and just hoping to be better than the last. With each and every brick being laid, we continue to progress, no matter what. Although the creation and execution of inclusive excellence have come a long way, it doesn’t mean we’re finished. And even when students pile inside, it won’t mean everything will finally be fixed, either. Like every story you’ve heard before, it will take time. And for this, I’m willing to wait. Sometimes I imagine what it’ll be like in ten years. Will Black kids walk into the Multicultural Center and feel like they’re on the set of School Daze? Will they feel safe? I cross my fingers every single time I walk by through the entrances surrounding Ball State’s future. I hope those kids who look just like me will never have to search for their people. Hopefully, they’ll be waiting right there, at the doors of Ball State and the Multicultural Center. 

New Center Nears Completion Construction continued this Fall on the new Multicultural Center. Replacing the current center, the new 10,500-square-foot facility — located east of Bracken Library — will provide services closer to where students live and study, with amenities designed to assist and support all students and to promote inclusive excellence. The new center replaces the former location: a house southeast of the Student Center that was constructed in 1934 and became the Special Programs House in the early 1970s to serve Ball State’s Black students.

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Firoza (Leena) Ali and Dr. Mir Masoom Ali at their Carmel, Indiana, home where they have lived since 2013.

A History of Friendships Whether guiding students to fulfilling careers or helping establish the Islamic Center of Muncie, Mir Masoom Ali is gifted at making others’ lives better. By Susan DeGrane


1969, Mir Masoom Ali, now the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Statistics and

professor emeritus of mathematical sciences, arrived as the only passenger on a 10-seater plane from Chicago to Muncie. After surveying the landscape of cornfields, his first thought was to call his wife. “I told her, ‘I’m coming back as soon as possible. There’s nothing here.’” Contrary to his words, he did not return to Toronto, where he received his PhD and where Firoza (Leena) Ali and their young children were still living. Nor did he return to Bangladesh, where he was born in 1937. Instead, he stayed in Muncie for 44 years, making an indelible mark on the community, both academically and culturally.


Winter 2021

Photo by Bobby Ellis

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


At Ball State, he established the statistics programs for undergraduates (later called Applied Mathematics) and the graduate statistics program. His legacy continues with the establishment by his children of the Dr. Mir Masoom Ali Scholarship, awarded annually to two graduate students studying statistics. He also co-founded the Midwest Biopharmaceutical Statistics Workshop, held annually since 1978, and the North America Bangladesh Statistical Association. A keynote speaker at statistical meetings around the world, he continues to be an active scholar, having published dozens of papers in top statistical journals. Before retiring in 2007, Ali prepared hundreds of men and women who became professors as well as statisticians working for the government, private industry, in fields of finance, public health, science, risk management, marketing, public policy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and more. (See sidebar on p. 39.) Recognized internationally, Ali also won Ball State awards for both Outstanding Researcher and Outstanding Faculty and was given the 2002 Sagamore of the Wabash Award, the highest honor given by the governor of Indiana, for his contributions to Ball State, to higher education in the state of Indiana, and to the field of statistics.


Recording History

ut there is more to Ali than his professional life. A devout Muslim, he played a key role in establishing the Islamic Center of Muncie. “My goal was to make my children familiar with the Islamic practices of their parents and grandparents so they would know where we came from,” said Ali, who spoke from his Carmel, Indiana, home where he and Leena have lived since 2013. “I wanted a place for them to join together with others to pray or for fasting or celebrating.” His effort to bring Muslims together in religious community served as inspiration for “Muslims in Muncie.” Comprised of 22 oral histories and culminating in an hour-long documentary film, the immersive learning project was created by 11 Ball State undergraduate students through the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry. The project’s faculty leader, Elizabeth Agnew, worked with Ali and the Islamic Center board to enlist participation of leaders of Muncie’s Muslim community. “Mir Ali provided the scaffolding for the documentary which ended up conveying a much larger world view,” said Agnew, associate professor of religious studies and director of Women’s and Gender Studies. “Without his help, it would have been very difficult to take on this project. We wanted it to be a community narrative that covered the arc of many individuals’ lives.”

All 11 students on the project team (shown below left with Dr. Agnew and Jud Fisher, COO of the Ball Brothers Foundation) began with intensive study — including meetings with religious and civic leaders in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. — to better grasp the history of Islam in America. In Spring 2018, more than 20 interviews, including a session with Dr. Ali (shown in left photo), were conducted by the students over a three-week span at the Ball Communication Building.

Photos by Robbie Mehling

Filmmaker Devon Roddel, ’18, was assisted by a fourperson team in creating the final, one-hour documentary. “A lot of heart and dedication went into making this film something to be proud of,” said Roddel, “and I hope the community will cherish this for years to come.”

Visit the Digital Media Repository at and search for “Muslims in Muncie” to view documentary and interviews.

36 Winter 2021

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


The oral history received the 2020 Alice Smith Prize in Public History from the Midwestern History Association, the 2019 Award for Oral History in a Non-Print Format from the Oral History Association, and the 2019 Faculty Immersive Learning Award for leadership of a Virginia B. Ball Center seminar. Now accessible online in the University Libraries Digital Media Repository, the resulting interviews and hour-long documentary received hundreds of hits within months of being posted. “Clearly this historical information is being accessed by Ball State students and faculty and by others around the world,” said Agnew.


n 2016, Agnew asked Ali to write an account of the early history of the Islamic Center of Muncie. In it, he recalled what began in 1970 as a prayer and meeting room for Ball State’s Muslim international students. As Muslims from the Muncie community joined in, the mosque branched off with worship services and gatherings in a rented apartment. It then moved to a church property, and finally to its present location with considerable acreage situated in north Muncie. The student group, which came to be affiliated with the Muslim Students Association in the late 1970s, is still going strong, while the Islamic Center has become a community hub for about 80 Muslims of diverse cultural heritage living in the area. For the participation it garnered to make the documentary, the Islamic Center received the 2019 Ball State University Community Partner Award. That participation involved welcoming immersive students to mosque services and gatherings and granting interviews with mosque members who hailed from 12 nations, among them Bangladesh, Pakistan,

Iraq, and Afghanistan as well as from Muncie and neighboring communities. Among the diverse group of students who worked on the project was Kyle Orr, ’19. A religious studies major, Orr said when the project was completed, “As an evangelical Christian in Midwestern America, I have little exposure to people who are ethnically and religiously different from me. This experience has given me the opportunity to change that, and I am grateful for it.”


hile Ali speaks with satisfaction at the “Muslims in Muncie” project and his many professional achievements, a tender side of his personality is revealed when he talks about his long marriage to Leena Ali. “When I first met my wife, I saw this beautiful girl. I fell in love. I was 22 and she was 16, but also from an educated family much like me. I knew we would make a good match. I met her on June 2, 1959. By June 25, we were married.” Coming from a culture of arranged marriages, he admits, “It was an impetuous thing to do, but we’ve been together now 61 years.” He also credits Leena, ’80 MS ’82, a practicing behavioral psychologist, for their longevity as a couple and for the success of their four children. Mir and Leena have welcomed hundreds into their home and their lives. Leena served as president of the University Wives and Women Club, organizing activities for couples and singles affiliated with Ball State. Among those who have appreciated the couple’s hospitality are Saber and Bibi Bahrami. Saber came to America as a refugee, having been jailed by the Russians when they invaded Afghanistan. Now a family physician affiliated with IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, he has

“Without Dr. Ali’s help, it would have been very difficult to take on this project. We wanted it to be a community narrative that covered the arc of many individuals’ lives.” —Dr. Elizabeth Agnew

38 Winter 2021

served as president of the Islamic Center, and Bibi Bahrami now heads the mosque. “Dr. Ali and his wife were the first family to invite us into their home,” Saber said. “That was in 1986, when Bibi was straight from Afghanistan and didn’t know a word of English.” “Muslims in Muncie” conveys the closeness of those who formed the mosque, as well as a successful bridging of cultural divides by many who came later. Those interviewed included Muslims who hailed from America and all over the world. The depth of their testimonies results from the student-filmmakers devoting an entire semester of study to the endeavor as Virginia B. Ball Seminar participants, said Agnew. “Much of the quality of the content had to do with time the students were able to invest.”


esides expressing their sense of belonging to the mosque community, interviewees divulged traumas still reverberating from historic events like 9/11. One woman told of having her hijab torn off while shopping for groceries with her children. A female nurse shared how a patient, fearing ill will, refused treatment from her. At the same time, interviewees expressed deep appreciation for support shown by neighbors who rallied to protect the mosque around the time of the destruction of the World Trade Center. The weight of such compelling oral histories was not lost on philosophy and religious studies major Benjamin McIntosh, ’18, and public history major Allison Hunt, ’20, who created the storyboard for the documentary with three others. “One of the most challenging things was with 40-plus hours of interviews, pulling specific quotes that would tell the story,” said McIntosh, who interviewed Ali. The immersive learning experience caused McIntosh to decide to continue his education, focusing on public history or journalism. Hunt said the project reinforced her education plans to focus on oral history as a tool for public historians. For interviewing Ali, who had shown love to so many, the students traveled to his Carmel home. “Through this project,” said Hunt, “I was able to learn so much about the history and diversity of Muncie, my hometown.” 

Alumni Benefitted From a Professor Who Deeply Cared According to his former students, Dr. Mir Masoom Ali had a profound influence as a Ball State professor. Those include Doo Young Kim, MA ’07, who arrived in Muncie from South Korea. “I was able to write but not speak English,” he said, adding that he improved his language skills by studying Dr. Ali’s writings and listening to his lectures. “These were impeccable,” said Kim, who served as a teaching assistant. Notes taken in Ali’s classes now serve as Kim’s “bible” for teaching statistics at Sam Houston University in Texas. “Dr. Ali was always taking care of all the students, thinking of their futures,” Kim said. “He helped many students with their careers. He took an interest beyond the classroom.” Kim still seeks advice from Ali and has even referred some of his students. Mohammed Rahimuddin Chowdhury, MA ’08, served as Ali’s last graduate assistant. Now an assistant professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, he applies his mentor’s approach. “He’s my role model, my inspiration, my professor, my guardian,” Chowdhury said. Also thanks to Ali, J. Adam Wright, MA ’07, taught mathematics and statistics for two years at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and later served as a branch chief for the U.S. military in Iraq, overseeing analysts in human resources. A retired major, he now serves as digital strategy manager for Accenture Applied Intelligence in Indianapolis. “With Dr. Ali’s help, and the village it took to help me get my degree, I was well-prepared,” said Wright. “I certainly think there’s a humanity to him. He always made himself available to everyone. You have to care about people to teach, and he was certainly a great role model.” (Below) In 1997, The Daily News gave Ali prominent coverage.

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY



DIALOGUE Ball State’s commitment to inclusive excellence includes the freedom of expression. By Tim Obermiller

Pledge to Respect The new Statement on Rights and Responsibilities, and creation of a campus campaign to support it, “will ensure the actions of our community reflect Ball State University’s commitment to the values of Beneficence and our obligations as a public institution of higher education,” according to the Freedom of Expression Committee.


Winter 2021


niversity President Geoffrey S. Mearns sees an essential connection between freedom of expression and inclusive excellence. “Freedom of expression enriches our individual perspectives, our understanding of each other, and our appreciation of the world,” said Mearns. “As a public university, we have a special responsibility to maintain an environment that nurtures this fundamental right.” Over five months, the Freedom of Expression Committee — formed by Mearns and led by Dr. Paaige Turner, Dean of the College of Communication, Information, and Media — examined policies that support and protect freedom of expression on the Ball State campus. Dr. Marsha McGriff, associate vice president for inclusive excellence, served as vice chair of the committee, whose 14 members worked to assess how Ball State could affirm freedom of expression as an essential part of the University’s mission. They participated in First Amendment-focused educational sessions, reviewed dozens of relevant internal policies, and researched more than 100 policies and statements from other universities. The goal, described by Mearns, was to “ensure that we are all accountable for protecting the free expression rights of our students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors.” The committee issued a summation of their work in a Statement on Rights and Responsibilities, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in January. Affirming its importance, the Statement on Rights and Responsibilities is now included in the University Faculty and Professional Personnel Handbook, other staff handbooks, and the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The statement guarantees that all members of the campus community are given “the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.” Acknowledging that opinions, at times, will lead to conflicts, the statement continues: “It is not the proper role of our University, however, to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome. …”

At the same time, the statement affirms, “Our University greatly values civility, and all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect. But concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, irrespective of how offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.”


he Statement on Rights and Responsibilities further asserts that “fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of our University’s educational mission.” At its conclusion, the statement circles back to Ball State’s commitment to inclusive excellence, “which encompasses encouraging and rewarding diversity of thought, innovation, and creativity. “It is our hope that, as we engage in free expression, we will learn to be comfortable in the dissidence that opposing views can often evoke,” the statement reads. To ensure this statement is understood by all members of the campus community, the Board of Trustees also endorsed a campus engagement campaign to educate and celebrate freedom of expression. This includes development of educational sessions, training curriculum, “and a set of communication skill competencies to better facilitate difficult conversations related to these principles.” Board of Trustees Chair Renae Conley, ’80 MBA ’82, called the statement an important and unifying step for Ball State’s commitment to both inclusive excellence and continuous learning. “Freedom of expression is about creating an environment where everyone feels welcome to participate, to share thoughts and ideas, and to listen to and respect the thoughts and ideas of others,” said Conley. It’s a conviction echoed in the Statement on Rights and Responsibilities, which affirms: “Our University endeavors to maintain a culture and community that will inspire our members to pursue knowledge with rigor and curiosity, to speak with care, and to work so that even the quietest or most underrepresented voices among us are heard.” 

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY



One Issue

at a Time As a Black CEO and publisher, Angelia Stone has made it her mission to connect and inspire women, especially women of color. Story by Gail Werner, ’04 | Photos by Bobby Ellis, ’13


Fifteen years ago, Angelia Stone launched Hope magazine in Muncie. It now has more 30,000 subscribers and 50,000plus followers on its social media outlets. This year, she published her first book.

42 Winter 2021

ngelia Stone remembers when she first had the idea to start a women’s magazine. It was 20 years ago, and the idea was so scary, she talked herself out of it. Then, in 2005, Stone’s grandmother and father died within months of each other. “I felt like I owed it to them to pursue this dream I had, even if it still scared me,” Stone said. “I had no clue what I was doing, but one thing my mom always told me was, ‘They’re either going to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’” Stone encountered plenty of rejection on her path to launching her publication — from bankers who didn’t value her business plan to skeptics who told her she needed a journalism degree to pull off what she wanted to accomplish. But the Muncie native who grew up with her nose stuck in the pages of Essence, Ebony, and Jet remained undeterred.

The first issue of Hope magazine debuted in Spring 2006, featuring gospel singer CeCe Winans, the best-selling gospel artist of all time, on the cover. Stone recalls the dream-come-true moment when she held in her hands “something I had literally created from nothing.” Today, she continues to dream big on behalf of Hope, which, in its first 15 years of publication, has attracted more than 30,000 subscribers to its quarterly print and digital issues and 50,000-plus followers to its social media outlets. And while 2020 was hard for a majority of Americans, including Stone, the year held several bright spots for her: a rebrand of her magazine, the publication of her first book, and the celebration of her 50th birthday. “I’ve had a lot of firsts happen for me since I started Hope,” she said. “But I also feel like, in so many ways, I’m just getting started.”

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


One of Stone’s “bucket list” goals upon turning 50 was returning to the post-secondary education she put on hold when she dropped out of Ball State in 1991. As a publisher, CEO, and single mother of three children, Stone wasn’t sure she had the capacity to return to college. Then, she connected with an admissions representative at Ivy Tech — someone who answered all her questions and helped her secure scholarship money. “Something I’ve always told my kids” — daughter, Chantel, 27; son, Jaylen, 25; and son Jordan, 17 — “is to learn who the people are who can help you in school. Because the first time I was at Ball State, I didn’t know about all the resources that were available to me — resources that could have helped me finish.” Stone graduated from Ivy Tech with her associate’s degree last August, not long after her daughter completed her master’s degree in social work from IUPUI. As of this Fall semester, Stone is back at Ball State, where she’s resumed her coursework to finish her bachelor of general studies degree.


ow that she’s on campus again as a student, Stone is determined to make the most of her second chance at being a Cardinal. “I tell people who are nontraditional students like me that it’s not too late to try something again. You’re never too old to learn.” After she graduates from Ball State, Stone wants to continue her lifetime educational journey. “I want to keep going, because I really want to teach.” Stone also wants to grow Hope’s mission of empowering women, a mission captured in the title of her first book, Yes Sisters: Surrounding Yourself with Women Who Affirm, Encourage, and Challenge You, which debuted in March. The book chronicles the lessons Stone has learned over the course of her publishing career and the influence of the strong and courageous women — her Yes Sisters — who have inspired her along the way. In return, Stone has inspired many more women who have come to know her and to work with her thanks to her magazine. “What I do for Hope is out of my admiration for Angelia,” said Eldred Jones, ’93, a Muncie resident who volunteers as an executive assistant for the publication. “Knowing all that she goes through to get an issue out in print and digital puts me in awe of her.”

44 Winter 2021

Hope and Empowerment As a publisher, CEO, and single mother of three children, Stone returned to Ball State this Fall to complete her bachelor’s degree. She hopes to be an example to her children (above, from left) Jordan, Jaylen, and Chantel. At right, some of the periodicals that Stone publishes. “I’ve had a lot of firsts happen for me since I started Hope,” she said. “But I also feel like, in so many ways, I’m just getting started.”

Hope’s senior editor, NataLeigh Mosley, said of Stone: “From the moment you meet her, it’s clear Angelia isn’t afraid to put in the work necessary to make her dreams a reality.” Stone is confident in the diverse team she has in place to help her publish Hope — a team that includes supportive women like Jones and Mosley, as well as interns, including Ball State students, who help her manage the content that populates the pages of the magazine and its accompanying website. As she has learned, finding people she can trust is one of the many challenges she has faced in an industry that is tough on female entrepreneurs — especially women of color. “There have been a lot of microaggressions over the years,” Stone explained with a sigh. She recalls the person who advised her “not to include a photo of myself on the editorial page, so my readers wouldn’t know I was Black.” Before that was a consultant who criticized her editorial decision-making, calling her an “Uncle Tom” for wanting to reach a readership beyond Black women. She’s also experienced what she believes is her fair share of gendered and racial biases when seeking ad revenue for Hope. “Some of these advertisers, I see their ads in other magazines with a readership like mine, but when I reach out, I hear ‘We don’t have the budget’ or ‘What’s your demographic again?’” Stone looks up to Black female publishers who have come before her, like Bea MotenFoster, a pioneering radio journalist who was founder and publisher of the Muncie Times, an African-American newspaper that served east central Indiana in the 1990s and 2000s. “Ms. Foster was a trailblazer,” Stone said. “She knocked down doors for women like me.” In the years to come, Stone wants to see Hope magazine become a household name in the homes of women across the state. She’d also like to see the quarterly brunch meetings that Hope sponsors to promote networking in communities across the region expand into an annual event large enough to fill an arena in Indiana. Stone said, “I want to support women of color, women who’ve been stuck, and help them realize, ‘You can be free. You can evolve. You can live your dreams, no matter your age.” With Hope, she’s accomplishing that goal, one issue at a time. 

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Top 10 Ways

In terms of embracing his identity as a gay man, Jonathan Scott, ’05, has come a long way since his undergraduate years at Ball State, when he was still mostly “in the closet.” It’s been a 180-degree turn in the years since. He is now proudly gay — in his workplace, as a digital strategy manager for Eli Lilly and Company’s corporate affairs and communications team, in his community, and as a Ball State alumnus. At Ball State, Scott was a journalism major, Alpha Tau Omega fraternity member, and active in Campus Crusade for Christ. Now a member of the Ball State Alumni Council, he participated this Fall in an Inclusive Excellence Roundtable (see p. 28) hosted by President Geoffrey S. Mearns. Also in 2020, he was chosen as Business Leader of the Year by the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce for his work as chair of the Lilly Pride employee resource group, which has thousands of LGBTQ+Allies members. This past June, LGBTQ Pride Month celebrations marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City that catalyzed what became the modern gay (later LGBTQ) rights movement. That fact was on Scott’s mind when he wrote the following essay, originally published in CCIM Digest. “In true David Letterman fashion,” he says, the top 10 list provides ways to become “a better ally, for those who ID as straight, and cisgender. These are simple and practical, good in Pride Month and good always.”

to Become a Better LGBTQ Ally


Film Will Feed Information to You You hardly have to work for it! Watch movies about LGBTQ identities, cultures, and relationships. For starters, I recommend the Oscar-nominated Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Weekend and, of course, the heralded Oscar winner Moonlight. Now that’s infotainment.

By Jonathan Scott, ’05


Chase Those Films with Documentaries My suggestions are Paris Is Burning about the 1980s queer-trans-drag underground (and vernacular) in New York, and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, a tragically beautiful tale about a statuesque figure in Stonewall-and-beyond lore, readily available to most via Netflix.

Photo by Samantha Blankenship


46 Winter 2021

Read LGBTQ Writers, Authors and Voices of Various Kinds I recommend anything from gay black author James Baldwin’s oeuvre, including Another Country, and Giovanni’s Room. I’m also partial to tweets from Meredith Talusan, who has a new book, Fairest, in which she speaks to being a trans woman from the Philippines who has albinism.


Study up on LGBTQ Terminology Pronouns (mine are he/his) and inclusive ways in which you can talk to LGBTQ neighbors, classmates, colleagues, and loved ones.


Follow Black Queer Voices on Social Media You can start with Ashley Ford, ’13, on Twitter. Ball State’s 2018 Winter commencement speaker, Ford’s got a vivacious voice on that platform, and the writer-presenter bona fides to back it up.


Discern Ways You Can Give — Your Time, Talent and Treasure — in Your Own Community For me in Indianapolis, that’s spread across organizations such as The Damien Center, Indiana Youth Group, BU Wellness and GenderNexus, among many other mighty fine orgs doing amazing work to make life better for LGBTQ youth and people of all ages.


Consider the Plight of Black LGBTQ Youth And respond accordingly. Before COVID-19 overtook most of the world, and before the racial unrest consumed U.S. conversation, 150 to 400 years later than it should have, these kids already had it unspeakably tough. They’re vulnerable in these times of societal discourse and charged, even flagrant, public expression of all kinds. They need our help. Learn about the need and how you can support The Trevor Project and other organizations.


Ask Questions Be content to do some self-study on all the above, and then sit with the questions and thoughts you have about the topics. And then: ask. Don’t be afraid to say the so-called “wrong” thing. Everyone in the LGBTQ community has walked back something they’ve said or asked even within their own community. It’s diverse, and it has diversity of thought. We embrace that. You can do so, too — and you’ll find yourself embraced as well.


Seek to Help Others If you hear someone asking a legitimately abrasive or disrespectful question of a LGBTQ person, take them aside after that meeting or have a hallway (or online) conversation about how that phrasing or tone might be received by the LGBTQ peer. Doing so graciously and in private, at least on the first attempt, can be affirming to the person to shift their future ways of thinking and operating.


Celebrate! There’s a reason we celebrate Pride Month in June, as shared above, and it may be a “miles underfoot, with many miles to go” mentality on our planet still, but it is right and good and healthy for us to let loose and enjoy the fabulous fashions, cultures, and expressions in the LGBTQ community — local, national, and global. Because a pandemic and a glaring equality issue, in 2020, have revealed just how disconnected and yet connected we truly are. All things glocal. 

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


A program provides students from marginalized backgrounds the relationships and skills they need to pursue graduate education and beyond. Story by Nick Werner, ’03 | Photos by Rebecca Slezak, ’21

48 Winter 2021

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY



Psychology Professor Jerrell Cassady (below) is a Pathways mentor to Kiara Johnson. The Pathways Project includes mentoring workshops for faculty and professional development opportunities for students.


Winter 2021

iara Johnson spent a year in educational purgatory. She came to Ball State in 2019, having already earned a bachelor of arts in English from Benedict College, a historically Black college in Columbia, South Carolina, and a master of arts in teaching from the University of Indianapolis. But her application to the doctoral program in educational psychology at Ball State didn’t make it clear she was ready to thrive at that level. Faculty in the program encouraged her to apply to the master’s in educational psychology program to gain the skills and background knowledge needed for doctoral level study. Not one to give up on a dream, Johnson agreed. But she never felt more vulnerable. With limited exposure to research, Johnson’s mind sometimes raced with anxiety that year. Would she fit in? How would she navigate the unwritten expectations of academia? If she made a mistake, would she just be confirming a stereotype? “The entire time I kept wondering, am I good enough?” she said. She was. The doctoral program admitted her in 2020 thanks to a strong application with fresh research on test anxiety. Johnson credits much of her success — including an increased sense of confidence and a better understanding of scholarship — to Ball State’s Pathways Mentoring program.

The Pathways program is an inclusive excellence initiative within the Graduate School designed to support students from marginalized backgrounds who want to pursue advanced degrees. The spectrum of students Pathways serves is broad and includes students of color, veterans, students with disabilities, students with dependents, low-income students, and students in the LGBTQIA2S+ communities. The mentoring program is part of the broader Pathways Project, which also includes mentoring workshops for faculty and staff and an Action Research Collective that expands research professional development opportunities for underrepresented and marginalized graduate students. The Pathways Mentoring program currently serves about 50 students. Some mentors are helping undergraduate students prepare for graduate school; others are aiding graduate students as they prepare for doctoral programs. Dr. Robin Phelps-Ward, assistant professor of higher education, helps coordinate the Pathways Mentoring program in collaboration with two graduate assistants. Eight years ago, Phelps-Ward helped initiate the program alongside Dr. Charles Payne and Dr. Charlene Alexander, former directors of the Office of Institutional Diversity (now the Office Inclusive Excellence). The ultimate goal was to build a network of mentors to help increase the numbers of faculty of color at the institution. After graduating from Ball State in 2015 with an Ed.D. in adult, higher, and community education, Phelps-Ward joined Clemson University as an assistant professor of higher education and student affairs. She returned to Ball State in 2019 to lead the program once again, this time as the Graduate School’s Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence. Based on assessment and feedback from mentors and mentees in the program, PhelpsWard renamed the program, now called Pathways, sans the PhD, to be more inclusive. “There are folks who are interested in J.D.s or Ed.D.s or M.D.s. The list goes on,” she said. “We want to support those students, too.” English professor Dr. Emily Rutter became a mentor in Fall 2016. She is now mentoring her third student. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the work involves Zoom meetings, text messaging, and emails. In prior years it included talks over coffee and in her office. “One of the important things about Pathways is that is a lasting bond,” Rutter said. “I can continue to mentor or be in their lives

I feel like I’m in the middle of a fairy tale. It’s not an easy one. It’s hard. But it’s my dream come true. —Kiara Johnson

long after graduation. That’s something that doesn’t always happen.” First-generation student Cheyanne Wims is a junior studying social work with a minor in African-American studies. Her dream is to earn a Ph.D. and become a professor — maybe even at Ball State. She’s been involved in Pathways since her sophomore year. Her mentor is Dr. Ashley Hutchinson, PhD ’13, assistant professor of counseling psychology. The pair email each other regularly and have bi-weekly meetings, via Zoom. In one Zoom conference in October, Wims and Hutchinson talked about being assertive. “I’m a Black woman and being assertive can be difficult sometimes,” Wims said. “But I’ve been practicing the tips we talked about and trying to be more expressive. I know it’s important so I can build up leadership experience.”


helps-Ward warns that programs such as Pathways should not be seen as a cure-all. Students should have more than one mentor, and it is better if they come through both formal and informal channels, she said. Additionally, institutions must address the structural issues that serve as barriers to

success for students from marginalized backgrounds. “We need mentoring plus more. This is everyone’s job. We have to work together to make sure we aren’t just paying lip service to access and equity.” Kiara Johnson and her mentor, Dr. Jerrell Cassady, agree that Pathways is about much more than providing encouragement. The program helps coach students through research projects and develop applicable skills, too. It’s about making them as competitive as possible in the marketplace. Growing up in poverty spurred in her a relentless drive to succeed, Kiara said. Pathways helped her apply that ambition to her education. She hopes to eventually build a school or develop a program that gives the same support she has received at Ball State, but for students at younger ages. “She’ll be very valuable when she leaves Ball State,” said Cassady, a professor of psychology. Even in this uncertain pandemic year, Kiara said she finally feels centered with a sense of calm that was missing in her previous educational experiences. “I feel like I’m in the middle of a fairy tale,” she said. “It’s not an easy one. It’s hard. But it’s my dream come true.” 

Kiara Johnson (above, on a Zoom call with her mentor, Dr. Cassady), says the support she’s received through Pathways has given her greater confidence.

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


a fresh perspective

Tools for Growth Becoming more aware of the snap judgments we make about others is an important step in fostering a more inclusive culture, says Sociology Professor Dr. Melinda Messineo.

Story by Taylor Smith, ’22 | Photos by Samantha Blankenship, ’15


lose your eyes. Think of a Black man in a hoodie. Do you have an image in your mind? A feeling in your gut? Now think of a surfer. A kindergarten teacher. A teenager on a skateboard. The initial thoughts and reactions you have to these shorthand descriptions seemingly occur subconsciously, without your control. They are called implicit biases, or “snap judgments,” said Dr. Marsha McGriff, associate vice president for inclusive excellence at Ball State. “These are just little imprints or, more technically, psychological schemas of how something should look based upon our vast world of experiences,” McGriff said. Those little imprints may seem harmless. Yet personal biases can affect the ways we instantly react to others different from ourselves, and information sources such as the media can influence those biases in profound ways. Removing our bias blinders has been a mission for Sociology Professor Dr. Melinda Messineo over almost three decades. Beginning her research in graduate school at the University of California, she studies how media outlets portray race, class, and gender and how that, in turn, influences people’s innate biases. In recent years, she’s turned that research into action, working with community organizations, nonprofits, educators, and students in training that helps people recognize and counteract those biases. Messineo — who chairs the Department of Psychological Science and is a faculty fellow in the Office of Inclusive Excellence — believes this training can change minds, and surveys with participants back up that belief. “[Participants] share that they feel empowered to make a difference in their own lives. They share that it impacted their perspective, gave them a lot to think about, and gave them tools they can use immediately.” At Ball State, Messineo developed her training to assist learning and developmental opportunities already offered to foster an inclusive campus community.

52 Winter 2021

Success has been gradual. “People want to have an inclusive campus but at times it is not the first priority. But the culture is shifting,” she said. “Now there is a very high demand.”


essineo conducts campus workshops with Bobby Steele, who is director of Ball State’s Multicultural Center. “Bobby is a phenomenal advocate for students and is committed to creating an inclusive campus. He had been doing great work in this area and we decided to partner up on events that had both students and faculty.” In addition to implicit bias, their workshops focus on “microaggressions.” According to psychologist Derald W. Sue, who’s written two books on the subject, microaggression refers to “everyday slights, indignities, put downs, and insults that people of color, women, LGBT populations, or those who are marginalized experience in their day-to-day interactions with people.” A lesbian being told she “doesn’t look gay” or non-white person complimented on their use of “good English” are just two examples. As with implicit biases, such microaggressions are often not even recognized by the speakers. That’s important, because such behavior can create barriers as an institution like Ball State works toward building an inclusive community, described by President Mearns as “a campus culture where every person feels welcome, respected, and valued.” “A lot of the challenges we face in terms of building an inclusive community are connected to the assumptions we make about groups different than our own, and these assumptions are often wrong,” says Messineo. “When we understand these assumptions, we can rely on them less and have more positive interactions and build a supportive community.”

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY



Bobby Steele

McGriff echoed Messineo’s hopes for the workshops. She said the goal is for participants to notice that they are making assumptions and then act upon stopping them before responding verbally or physically to a given situation. “It is a process. Being mindful of your assumptions is so critical — and doing it before you act upon it, and say or do something that can be potentially damaging and hurtful, is so important,” she said. McGriff said she finds these workshops satisfying not just for participants, but for herself as well. “That educational part of it is always gratifying. We’re educators at our core.”

ayna Thompson, director of Ball State’s Charles W. Brown Planetarium, said that she regularly uses tools gained in Messineo’s workshop in her role at the planetarium and as co-chair of the International Planetarium Society’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. “In an international community — and any establishment that’s working with the public and inviting people from all different backgrounds into their space — there’s a huge need to be inclusive and respectful,” Thompson said. “If science communicators can better understand how to approach the public and have meaningful conversations, practicing humility, it helps us be better leaders to our staff, but then it also helps us be more inviting to the public.” Thompson said that Messineo has specific phrases and tools that workshop participants can use and practice, including: “Pause, interrogate your assumption, ask, ‘Do I have enough information to make this assumption?’ and then respond.” “There’s a lot of times when you go to a workshop, there’s a lot of information that’s given to you,” Thompson said. “But you’re left with, ‘Okay, now I have all of this information but I don’t know what to do with it,’ but [Melinda] leaves you with a call to action.” Messineo said it’s important to remember that bias training takes time, and although participants leave workshops with tools and information to improve how they act upon their biases, change is a process. “We have to remember it is a marathon and not a sprint, and pacing yourself is important. But ultimately, I believe that we can grow and learn and support one another more effectively.” At the same time, she has noted improvements regarding inclusivity on Ball State’s campus, and hopes the community will continue to strive for a climate of true inclusivity. “Having a strategic plan and an inclusive excellence plan is a phenomenal step toward building the community we aspire to be,” Messineo said. 

Ball State’s Executive Education program is designed to engage companies and their employees with our expert Miller College of Business faculty. We help solve problems and enhance your business performance.

WE CAN HELP YOU SUCCEED. Connect with our experts today.

Messineo and Steele conduct a bias training workshop online. “People want to have an inclusive campus,” she says.

54 Winter 2021

• Overcome your business challenges • Improve financial acumen • Explore new innovation and entrepreneurial thinking • Grow your marketing plans • Improve teamwork • Expand creativity

Class Notes

Class Notes

Helping Others to Fly Kyle Williams is an active mentor and now a proud legacy dad.


ince graduating in 2000, Kyle Williams has sought ways to give back. Serving on the boards of the Black Alumni Constituent Society and the Ball State University Foundation, he has raised thousands of dollars to support student scholarships and textbooks while taking an active role in mentoring students and alumni. Based in the Indianapolis area, Williams is a regional sales manager and team leader for Sebia USA’s Midwest Region.

2800 W. Bethel Ave. Muncie, IN 47304 765-285-1080 Toll Free: 888-I-GO-4-BSU ballstatealumni BallStateAlumni

From the Alumni Association President Despite postponing Homecoming until Spring 2021, images of a big tent are still in my mind. Under this tent is our diverse alumni population and the ways in which we serve and engage you. The volunteer leadership of these efforts are your peers on the Ball State University Alumni Council. The Council is intentional in its makeup, reflecting the entire alumni population, with a proportional balance of graduation years, geographic regions, college attended, racial identity, and ethnicity. These volunteers work to bring programs and services that add value to the more than 200,000 alumni. In this issue of Alumni, we celebrate diversity. Two examples of how diversity is alive and well in your alumni leaders can be seen in articles featuring Kyle Williams, ’00, and Jonathan Scott, ’05. Each has been a strong voice around campus. Williams is a board member of the Black Alumni Constituent Society (BACS) and the Ball State Foundation, and recently served as an at-large member on the Council. He has raised thousands of dollars for African American student scholarships and textbooks over the years, while taking an active role in mentoring students and alumni. Scott is an at-large member of the Council and actively involved with the LGBTQ community at his workplace, Eli Lilly. He brings expertise to the table for Ball State. Scott’s recent essay in the CCIM Digest, “Top 10 Ways You Can Become a Better LGBTQ Ally,” has been adapted for this issue. The Alumni Association is in the process of building an affinity group for the LGBTQ community. Despite this diversity, we need your help to be more inclusive. How can you be a part of the party under this tent? Reconnect with a classmate that is different than you, become a mentor on Cardinals Connect, participate in the programs offered by the BACS and other constituent societies regardless of your race or background. Simply put, participate in the life Jamie Acton of BSU and the Alumni Association. We look President, Ball State Alumni Association forward to welcoming you. — Jamie


Winter 2021


Visit Ball State

Join Cardinals Connect Online

Attend an Alumni Event

Join an Alumni Chapter

Your Representatives The Alumni Council is the voice of Ball State’s 200,000 alumni. Learn more about them at

Keep in Touch  Submit Class Notes and In Memoriam entries by filling out the online form at  Alumni, please visit and click “ALUMNI DIRECTORY” to update your information.  Ball State alumni, family, and friends may send address updates by email at

What about your college experiences has most influenced your life since graduating? My time as a resident assistant at the DeHority Complex really developed my leadership skills. I had to learn how to get the respect of fellow students while still staying within University guidelines. As a member of Omega Psi Phi, I learned how to work on a team. When I was elected chapter president, I applied the servant-leader approach. While working as a computer lab assistant, I was exposed to technology which has been valuable to my career and also helped to developed my customer service skills. What motivated you to get involved in the Black Alumni Constituent Society (BACS) and other initiatives? While at Ball State I came upon a time of financial hardship. I weighed my options and found a pathway to attain the finances I needed to continue my education. As part of receiving this assistance, I was asked to remember this gesture, and I have. I plan to support Ball State as God continues to provide a financial increase in my life. Just as important is helping students navigate their career paths. Being a Black alumnus, I find it vital that I am available to the Black student body. BACS allows for professional networking and a collective effort to support the scholarships that are offered to our Black students. It also connects our Black alumni across the country. Do you have advice for alumni parents in talking to their child about attending their alma mater? My son began his freshman year this Fall, and that is definitely a very proud moment for me. It’s a great fit for him, matching his aspiration to pursue a computer science career. I would tell parents: The ideal time to introduce your future Cardinal to Ball State is in elementary and junior high school. Try a trip to Charlie Town for Homecoming, or a basketball game at the Arena. What advice would you give to Ball State leaders in helping us become a more inclusive culture? President Mearns has spent a great deal of time researching and creating initiatives addressing diversity and inclusion, and I see this being an even bigger priority moving forward. We need to continue to have a diversity advisory board, and increased minority involvement on various leadership boards throughout campus. We need to have diversity on all levels to ensure that we are allowing an inclusive environment that provides each Cardinal an equal opportunity to fly.

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Class Notes

Class Notes

Treasured Moments

Cardinal Pride

If you could relive just one special day at Ball State, what would it be? This Fall on Ball State’s Facebook page, followers were asked this question. We received over 200 comments — here are some highlights.

Hard Hats Kenneth Briner, ’69, (right) and Head Football Coach Mike Neu, ’94, survey what will be the practice field that’s part of the $15 million indoor practice facility for athletics now under construction. The facility will be named in honor of June and the late John Scheumann, ’71, who made the lead gift. The field will be named after Kenneth and Peggy Briner. Other leadership gifts were committed by Larry Owens, ’66, Craig (’86) and Teneen Dobbs, and Dan Towriss, ’94, whose philanthropy was also recognized with Scheumann Stadium’s field renamed Gainbridge Field in his honor (see p. 64 for more on Towriss and Dobbs and their involvement in the Indy 500).

Memories of March Madness King of the Ring “The day I won my weight class in the annual Beta Bouts philanthropic boxing tournament for my fraternity, Theta Xi, in 1990. Winning my match was the most intense feeling of joy I had experienced up to that point in my life. “As soon as I exited the ring, I headed straight to Mugly’s in The Village, and that night I went back and forth between celebrating with brothers, friends, and strangers. “The events of that day were a serious confidence boost to me at a time in my life when I needed it. It is something I am very proud of. I feel that the criminal justice program at BSU, my time in Theta Xi, and my athletic success in boxing all combined to build the foundation of my life.” — Larry Born, ’91

Nailing the Interview “My Whitinger Scholars program interview in early 2001 in my senior year of high school. It was an unquestionably life-changing day. This interview was like none I had experienced prior to that day or in the years since. “The interview gave me a preview of the depth and breadth of intellectual challenge I could have at Ball State; the panelists themselves were tremendously personable and radiated delight at new discovery.” — Sarah (Atkinson) Rentschler, ’06 MA ’11

“In 1990, it was my freshman year, and I was in Klipple Hall watching the Ball State March Madness tournament, where they ended up beating Louisville and were headed to the Sweet 16. “The second the game ended, just about every student in the entire school ran out of the dorm rooms and started celebrating. It is my most vivid and happiest memory from Ball State. Everyone was so happy celebrating something that was so rare and still has not happened again 30 years later.” — Debbie (Dussich) Saple, ’93

A Valuable Autograph “The day I got the final signature on my master’s thesis. The reason this day stands out is that I was up against the deadline to submit all of my thesis paperwork to be considered for Summer graduation. “It was a personal goal to close this chapter of my life before embarking on the next. I had pulled an all-nighter wrapping up the final changes. It gave me great pride to have my professor’s signoff saying that I was proficient enough in my area to be awarded my degree. “I worked hard for my degree. My thesis won the Keys/Litten/Smith Award and went on to be presented at The American College of Sports Medicine and get published.” — Scott Dueball, MS ’10

Humans, Zombies, Soulmates


“The day I met my husband, Cole Heady, ’16, during my freshman year. I was with some friends and went to watch an epic battle of Humans vs. Zombies in the parking garage behind the Student Center. When it was over, we started to walk back to our dorm (LaFollette) and a goofy dude with a headlight and goggles asked me if I was with the anthropology class observing them — he then asked for my number.

Gary Wasson, CAP ’68, Fort Wayne, IN, was honored in August 2020 with Indiana’s Circle of Corydon Award, which recognizes Hoosiers for remarkable contributions to the betterment of Indiana and its people. Wasson served as executive director of the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, director of operations for the Grand Wayne Center, Park Board commissioner, and as a board member of the Southwood Park Neighborhood Association. He championed establishment of a convention center and park at the center of the city, spurring the interest from hotels and restaurants. He also helped bring Fort Wayne’s minor league baseball team to its downtown.

“This was about a week before we actually started dating, but it was one of the most memorable nights. Cole and I have been together, both in marriage and dating, for 10 years as of October 24. I met my best friend, soulmate, and love of my life that night.” — Megan Heady, ’14

1970s Peter Joffre Nye, ’72, Oak Harbor, WA, a freelance journalist, noted the release of a second edition of Hearts of Lions: The History of American Bicycle Racing in May 2020 by University of Nebraska Press. The book builds on the 1988 edition published by

58 Winter 2021

W.W. Norton. Nye has been published in more than 100 publications, including the Washington Post, USA Today, Humanities Magazine, and Sports Illustrated. Renee Tobia Patterson, ’79, Gary, IN, and her husband, Archie, are entering their 32nd year managing rental properties at their company, Tobia Investments LLC, in northwest Indiana. Having acquired and sold almost 100 properties, they maintain a steady portfolio of 20 to 30 properties. “We have found that there is a huge need in the community for decent, affordable and well-kept housing for many people looking to live comfortably until they can afford to purchase,” Patterson said.

Ball State University BallState ballstateuniversity officialballstate ballstateuniversity ourballstate

1980s Catherine J. Rush, ’80, Wickliffe, OH, wrote In Pursuit of Danny: A Life-Changing Encounter with a Baby, a book about a child with disabilities in the 1960s, published by Covenant Books. She is president of Knowhere2turn and co-owner of Twisted Sisters Handmade Treasures.

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Class Notes

Cardinals Connect


Your link to the Ball State alumni community—more than 200,000 strong!

Brian Fowler, ’01, Omaha NE, was promoted to vice president of procurement and product development for Omaha Steaks. Prior to joining the company nearly five years ago, he held leadership roles at Gordmans Stores and Kohl’s Department Stores. In our Summer 2020 issue, we incorrectly reported on the current job of Ball State Alumni Council President Kelli Lawrence, ’01. She is, in fact, CEO of an Indianapolis-based home building company. We apologize for the error. Jan Behounek, ’96

Jim Keller, MA ’82, New Fairfield, CT, co-writer of the play A Pitch from Satchel Paige with his father, Loren, was the winner of the New York New Works Festival in Manhattan. The two-act, one-character theatrical play portrays Paige, the great Negro leagues pitcher who preceded Jackie Robinson and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as its first electee of the Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues in 1971. Jeffrey L. Wyckoff, ’84, Fort Wayne, IN, was promoted to assistant vice president, field examination officer for Lake City Bank in Warsaw, IN, the sixth largest bank headquartered in the state.

1990s David L. Hildebrand, ’91, Seymour, IN, owner of a fitness center in Salem, IN, and his wife Melissa, a defense attorney, have co-authored You Matter — Your Personal Health Revolution, released in May 2020. The self-help book explores reasons people choose to be, or not to be, healthy and offers long-term approaches for sustaining good health. Henry O. Hall, ’93, Fort Wayne, IN, president of Skytech Products Group, received an Award of Distinction from the Miller College of Business in 2020. He was one of four alumni honored. Shelley Meador, ’93, Indianapolis, senior vice president and chief human resource officer at Allegion, PLC, received an Award of Achievement from the Miller College of Business in 2020. She was one of four alumni honored.

Lucy Riles, ’02, Woodland Hills, CA, published author and podcast host, teamed up with her dog, Duchess, to compete on The Pack, a global adventure series celebrating the bond between 12 teams of dogs and their humans. Hosted by gold medalist skier Lindsey Vonn, The Pack premiered on Amazon Prime Video worldwide Nov. 20, 2020. Riles’ latest book, Mom vs. Dad: Whose Side Are You On?, co-authored with her husband, Tom, was also released in November 2020. Jonathan Lamb, ’04, Yorktown, IN, was named Small Business Administration and United States Department of Agriculture Business and Industry business development officer for North State Bank’s government lending division. A former commodity floor trader, commercial real estate developer, and public speaker, he authored a best-selling book on economics. Matthew D. Sparling, ’05, Fort Wayne, IN, a principal with MKM architecture + design, received The American Institute of Architects’ Indiana Young Architect Award for 2020. The award recognizes proficiency and exceptional accomplishments of licensed, member architects 40 years or younger. Sparling was recognized for developing design solutions to combat the spread of COVID-19. Walter Litzlbauer Jr., ’06, Indianapolis, is the owner of A-TIN Transport services, an acronym for “Assisting Those In Need.” “And we truly try to assist those in need,” said Litzlbauer, an avid volunteer since 2008 involved in youth sports and coaching with the Municipal Gardens and the Dad’s Club at Riverside in Indianapolis.

SEARCH: Find fellow alumni by name, class year, location, degree, work industry, and more. Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

Mark Hardwick, ’93 MBA ’99

Mark Hardwick, ’93 MBA ’99, Muncie, IN, now leads First Merchants Corporation as CEO. Hardwick, a member of Ball State University’s Board of Trustees and a former Ball State men’s basketball player, also serves as a board member of Meridian Health Services, Cardinal Properties Inc., the Miller College of Business Advisory Board, and on the investment committee of the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County. Jan Behounek, ’96, La Grange, IL, has joined FGM Architects as a principal, working in the firm’s Chicago office on higher education projects and business development. She is a board member of the Chicago Building Congress.

CONNECT: Catch up with your classmates and friends; find alumni with shared interests. NETWORK: Make career connections with alumni in your field, post/look for jobs, or find/become a mentor.

Register and start connecting today!

Julie Beasley, ’97, Houston has authored two children’s books on hurricanes. H Is for Harvey, released in 2018, portrays the struggles, heartaches and compassion of those caught in Hurricane Harvey’s rising waters. My Name Is a Hurricane?, released in August 2020, gives children context on why hurricanes are named, who names them, and more.

Please visit our Magazine online at magazine.bsu/edu to find “In Memoriam” notices of alumni deaths. The site also shares stories from past print issues, and unique online content. Lucy Riles, ’02, and Duchess Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Class Notes

Class Notes  Eric Steger, ’11, Noblesville, IN, won the PGA Indiana Open Championship in Peru, IN, in July 2020. The professional golfer birdied his final hole to finish at 13-under par, three shots clear of runner-up and fellow Ball State alumnus Timothy Wiseman, ’19. Steger’s father, Scott, ’88 — himself an All-American golfer at Ball State — won the state open in 1980 at the Golf Club of Indiana.

Relationship Builder Tony Smith shares his rich life experiences with the Ball State community. Taking an accounting course, he found a new career path. But some sacrifices had to be made to get there — including staying off-campus in a sleeping room and washing dishes in a dorm cafeteria. “I learned that if I was going to get an education, I had to focus on getting decent grades.” Smith applied an approach learned from Paul Parkison, who told him: “When facing a challenge, break it down into small pieces and start chipping away.” Working Summer construction to help him pay tuition, Smith graduated with a 3.4 GPA, no debt, and a full-time slot at Ernst & Young in Indianapolis. Then he was drafted into Army service during the Vietnam War as a clerk typist. Before going, he married Marla, who passed away in 2019.

Photo courtesy of Ball State Athletics

Meredith McGriff, ’07, Bloomington, IN, CEO of Hoosier Films, a regional film distribution company, headed up the Hoosier Films Annual Festival — presented completely online in September 2020. The festival featured the work of several Ball State students and alums: Purple by Erin McDowell, ’12; Cold Creek, directed by Dylan Query, ’19; and Popsy, directed by Jac Kessler, ’11 MA ’19. In 2020, Hoosier Films launched its channel on Roku to make its regional streaming service more accessible on televisions.

2010s Michael Butler, ‘05 MBA ’11, Muncie, chief technology officer at First Merchants, a financial services holding company in Central Indiana, received an Award of Achievement from the Miller College of Business in 2020. He was one of four alumni honored.

Justin Proctor, ’08 and ’10, Liberty, IN made Independent Banker magazine’s annual list of 40 Under 40: Emerging Community Bank Leaders. The honor bestowed by Independent Community Bankers of America recognizes the nation’s up-and-coming community bank innovators and influencers. Proctor, executive vice president and director of lending at Bath State Bank in Bath, IN, was recognized for his passion in supporting his customers and communities during the pandemic. He is a member of Ball State University Young Alumni Board.

Mixing Business With Pleasure A couple’s planned gifts back the Department of Economics and David Owsley Museum of Art

Learn about the benefits of making a charitable bequest, trust, beneficiary designation, or other planned gift, and read Cecil and Barbara’s incredible story about giving back at

Jeffrey Payne, ’11, Muncie, IN, director of program management for Progress Rail, a Caterpillar Company, received an Award of Achievement from the Miller College of Business in 2020. He was one of four alumni honored.  Angela M. Parks, ’12, Greensboro, NC, is employed in Danville, VA, as a social work therapist and mental health therapist. Before relocating last Fall with her family, she mentored and life-coached women from diverse backgrounds referred by partnering agencies in Muncie.

“Find something that you think works well at Ball State and you’d like to see continued, supported, or supplemented, and make that happen through a planned gift.” Cecil Bohanon and Barbara Alvarez Bohanon

Tony Smith ventures by motorcycle to Moscow’s Red Square in 2014.


fter 42 years working at top accounting firms, Tony Smith, ’68, helped raise $3 million for the Miller College of Business, establishing a master’s degree in accounting program named after his mentor, Paul W. Parkison, ’58 MA ’61. Smith, along with his wife, Marla, also donated $1 million and established two scholarship funds. As significant a legacy, Smith has mentored fellow alumni with an approachability that breaks down barriers and builds relationships. His desire to help dates back to his own experiences. The son of a funeral director in Columbia City, Indiana, Smith was vice president of his high school senior class and played varsity basketball, talents he took to Butler University on a basketball scholarship. “Being a jock, I didn’t think I had to work hard to get passing grades,” he said. “By the end of the first semester, I was on academic probation.” Smith lost his scholarship. Ball State, minus any scholarship, became his Plan B. But first, he had to bring up his grades.

Adventures plus service Twenty months later, he returned to his new family — his daughter was born seven months before he first saw her — and resumed his career. He rose to become a partner at Ernst & Young, where he provided technical expertise for the professional practices group. To mitigate risk for its global operations, Ernst & Young decided to utilize his expertise to establish a capital markets center in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Smith, then 60, approached the job with his usual zest for work and life — even orchestrating high-adventure motorcycle junkets across South American gravel roads. Retiring five years later, he continued his travels — including a trip to Norway near the Arctic Circle. He and Marla also motorcycled around America and even went snowmobiling in Siberia. A past chair of the Ball State Foundation Board, Smith is a generous donor — including sharing his rich life experiences with young alumni. Tom Kinghorn, ’65 MA ’66, retired vice president and treasurer at Ball State, also commends Smith for referring mentees to other Cardinal alums for guidance. “With Tony, it’s all about helping,” he said. Connor Ryan, ’13, a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch who majored in financial planning, says Smith’s guidance has been valuable. “In business, it’s often about ego, but Tony takes a different approach. He says it’s about kindness. It’s also about not burning any bridges.” From Smith, Ryan also learned the give-and-take of relationship building. “I was happy to connect Tony with younger generations of alums for fundraising,” Ryan said. “It felt good to be able to help.” “Tony has always been available to give support. In doing that, he’s changed lives,” Kinghorn said. — Susan DeGrane

“It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. You have to approach your work with passion, so you’re just as excited about going into work on Monday as you are on Thursday.” —Tony Smith

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Class Notes

Class Notes

Partnerships in Overdrive Behind the scenes, Ball State alumni make the Indy 500 happen.

Above: Dan Towriss, ’94, waves the green flag.

“No single race, including NASCAR, do you have as many people watching. You can get really good brand exposure. The Monkey In Paradise webpage got hit so many times when the logo was shown.” —Craig Dobbs, ’86

64 Winter 2021


ou probably saw the headlines this past Summer heralding famed Ball State alumnus David Letterman’s second Indy 500 win as a team co-owner. Driver Takuma Sato grabbed his second victory for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the August 23 race, postponed from May due to COVID concerns. Two other Cardinals played important roles in the race this year as well: Dan Towriss, ’94, and Craig Dobbs, ’86. Towriss, who earned a B.A. in actuarial science, waved the green flag to start the race. He is the CEO and president of Group1001, a privately owned insurance group with about $39 billion in assets. One such asset, Gainbridge, is the 500’s presenting sponsor. Group1001 and Gainbridge also sponsor the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda race car driven by James Hinchcliffe. Towriss, who makes sure companies he leads are committed to service, has supported educational and athletic initiatives at Ball State and serves on the University Foundation Board. Dobbs had a bittersweet 500 this year. Though the driver he helped sponsor, Conor

Daly, spun out in lap 94 and finished 29th, the bright side was that when cameras showed cockpit footage of the crash, two Monkey In Paradise Vodka logos were front-and-center. While Dobbs is best known as managing director of Graystone Consulting in Indianapolis, he is part owner of the Florida-based Monkey In Paradise. The two businesses are unrelated. Dobbs, who earned a B.A. in finance, also maintains strong ties with his alma mater, serving on the Foundation Board and speaking regularly to students in the Miller College of Business. Daly, from Noblesville originally, volunteers regularly for Children’s TherAplay Foundation, a nonprofit Dobbs helped found that uses horseback riding as a form of therapy for children with special needs in central Indiana. Dobbs has been an Indy 500 fan since childhood. “I’m already looking forward to next year and having the fans back in the stands. When everyone is there and you see that flyover at the beginning of the race — it’s hard to explain that feeling to people.” — Nick Werner, ’03

Photo by Abby Arnold

The Show Must Go On To see upcoming productions, buy tickets, and learn more about the Department of Theatre and Dance, visit theatredance.

Taking on the role of Clay in a production of Dutchman, junior Devion Ross faced an added challenge of acting with a protective mask. For the shortened oncampus Fall semester, the theater and dance department produced nine shows while adhering to COVID guidelines such as physical distancing. “Our students have been great at rolling with the punches,” said assistant professor Joe Court, who teaches sound design. “We are figuring it out every day as we go.”

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


2000 W. University Ave. Muncie, IN 47306 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED The information presented here, correct at the time of publication, is subject to change. Ball State University practices equal opportunity in education and employment and is strongly and actively committed to diversity within its community. Ball State University’s policies and plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are aligned with guidance from government agencies, public health officials, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some photos taken prior to the pandemic are used in this issue of Alumni magazine. Learn more about the University’s COVID-19 response at

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.