Alumni Magazine-Summer 2021

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Spreading Our Wings We Fly into the future with a collective commitment to our students, alumni, and the communities we serve.

News Flash Student staff of the Ball State Daily News charge toward the finish at the Homecoming Bed Race on April 30. Their banner honors the late Ed Shipley, ’68 MA ’71, longtime leader of Ball State’s Alumni Association. Teams competed at Briner Sports Complex—a change from past races held on Riverside Avenue. It was part of the first-ever Spring Homecoming—a change made after COVID-19 concerns delayed the customary Fall celebration, which will return in October 2021 (see back cover for more). Photo by Samantha Blankenship

From the President

News Sursa Performance Hall

Our Bright Future Awaits Dear Alumni and Friends: In Spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life as we knew it at our University. To curtail the spread of the coronavirus, we shifted to remote learning, cancelled most events including Commencement, and closed our campus. I was impressed at how quickly our faculty, staff, and students adjusted to what became a new—and necessary—version of academic life. And I was grateful that, because of our commitment to our health and safety protocols, we were able to provide on-campus instruction and some limited activities throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Throughout the pandemic, the members of our campus community demonstrated the ability to successfully overcome historic challenges. Now, as we look ahead to August 2021, I am confident that we will resume a nearly normal academic and on-campus schedule for the Fall 2021 semester. Returning to normal will enable us to provide a premier, in-person educational experience to our undergraduate students—that’s why they value the education we provide and why our faculty and staff are proud to provide it. As challenging as this past year has been, I hope that the creative innovations spawned by the pandemic will accelerate our strategic progress in providing a wide range of education programs that serve the needs of graduate students and adult learners pursuing fulfilling careers in an increasingly dynamic economy. I also hope that our sustained commitment to community engagement helps the local and regional economies that we serve regain positive momentum. Because every member of these communities deserves access to a quality education, to a good job, and to a bright future. I remain confident that a bright future is also in store for our University. With the theme “Focused on Our Future,” this issue features examples of how we continue to implement the goals and objectives of our strategic plan, Destination 2040: Our Flight Path (p. 42). Other stories include an overview of our campus master plan and the new construction that is underway on campus (p. 34), as well as a closer look at how our College of Health is helping prepare students for fulfilling careers that are in line with future healthcare trends (p. 50). I appreciate everyone—all of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends—who helped our University emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before. Soon, our vibrant campus will come alive again, and I look forward to that day with great anticipation. Sincerely,

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.

Editor Tim Obermiller

Designers 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 Susana Rivera-Mills Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Ro-Anne Royer Engle Vice President for Student Affairs Kathy Wolf Vice President for Marketing and Communications

Geoffrey S. Mearns President, Ball State University PresidentMearns


4 News Ball State University BallState ballstateuniversity

13 Arts & Culture


26 Great Expectations 34 Building for a Bright Future

16 Community

42 Flight in Progress

22 Sports

50 Meeting Healthcare Challenges, Today and Tomorrow

56 Class Notes

officialballstate ballstateuniversity


Summer 2021


Photo by Lucinda Stipp

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Scheu Enough, It’s Dave and Peyton!

Photo by Maryna Andriichenko Photo by Maryna Andriichenko

To learn more, visit

Legendary former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and famed Ball State graduate David Letterman visited Scheumann Stadium and spoke with Cardinal studentathletes during the filming of an episode of Peyton’s Places, a series produced by NFL Network in collaboration with ESPN. The two also turned heads and drew a crowd while tossing a pigskin near Frog Baby in the heart of our beautiful campus. Another highlight: new NFL rules, as determined by Dave, included letting mascots fight to determine who gets the ball. President Geoffrey S. Mearns hosted a virtual watch party on January 15, which provided a free, one-time viewing of the episode.

Gifts to Lift Future Teachers A $1.45 million commitment from a Teachers College graduate and her husband represents the largest single gift in the history of Teachers College. Michelle (Ashby), ’81, and Jim Ryan established the Michelle A. and James T. Ryan Family Scholarship, the Ryan Family Navigators Program, and the Ryan Fellowship for CommunityEngaged Teacher Preparation. The initiatives assist students with diverse and economicallychallenged backgrounds by providing financial assistance and comprehensive services. For more information about these initiatives and other Teachers College scholarships, visit the college’s website.

Online and Upward Online programs again rank among nation’s best.


all State’s online academic programs continue to be ranked among the best in the nation.

Online degrees in many areas earned top spots among online programs again this year in U.S. News & World Report rankings. U.S. News’ 2021 “Best Online Programs” list ranked five Ball State online degree programs in the top 40 nationally in their respective categories: 17th — M aster of Business Administration (MBA) 17th — Master’s in Nursing 21st — Master’s in Information Technology

“… An opportunity for students from underserved communities to gain a solid education from a strong university like Ball State could really impact our future teachers in so many different ways.” — Michelle Ryan, ’81


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35th — Master’s degrees in Education programs 39th — Bachelor’s degrees Online rankings in specialty areas included: 6th — M aster’s in Curriculum and Instruction (Education) 11th — B achelor’s in business programs 15th — M aster’s in Educational Administration and Supervision (Education) 17th — MBA general management Online-learning students experience the same rigorous academic courses as on-campus students, the same top-notch faculty who teach on campus, and the same degree and recognition as on-campus students. They also receive resources such as an online student orientation, technology HelpDesk and Technology Store, and student and academic support services.

online students Photo provided by ESPN/NFL Films

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News College of Heath Dean Welcomed

Preserving Ginn Woods

Dr. Scott Edward Rutledge was named the new dean of the College of Health, starting July 1.

Ball State dedicates one of Indiana’s largest protected old-growth forests as a state nature preserve.

Previously serving as associate dean for Faculty Affairs in Temple University’s College of Public Health, he has also done extensive research in areas such as HIV prevention interventions and health disparities among racial and sexual minorities.


ndiana’s second-largest protected old-growth forest officially became a state nature preserve thanks to Ball State University. The Indiana Natural Resources Commission established the 161-acre Ginn Woods as a nature preserve after the Board of Trustees approved the proposal this Spring. Ball State will retain ownership, and the University’s Field Station and Environmental Education Center staff will continue maintaining the land. “Dedicating this land as a state nature preserve aligns with our University’s strategic and master plans,” President Geoffrey S. Mearns said. “Ball State is committed to environmental stewardship and sustainability. We also believe in making a positive impact on our community. “Taking this step ensures Ginn Woods will remain unchanged and available for decades to come for vital research and education, which will benefit both our local and statewide community.”

Research destination For decades, students from our University and Burris Laboratory School have visited Ginn Woods for educational purposes. Biological research in the woods includes amphibian monitoring, tree mapping, migratory bird populations, and impacts of invasive species. Most of the woods has remained in its pristine, historic condition since settlement by John and Isabella Ginn in 1830. It was obtained by the University through a bargain sale by Mary Baldwin McKinzie, a Ball State graduate and John and Isabella Ginn’s great-granddaughter, in 1971. “Ginn Woods has been on our radar for 30 or 40 years,” said Ron Hellmich, ’88, director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves. “It is really exciting to add it as part of the nature preserve system. It meant so much for me as a student, and it will continue to mean a lot for students and the nature preserve system in Indiana.” The largest and highest quality woodland in East Central Indiana, Ginn Woods is one of six properties managed for native biodiversity by the University’s Field Station and Environmental Education Center. Collectively, those six lands occupy 425 acres in Delaware County. — Tim Obermiller

This conceptual image of a splash pad was one of many ideas students presented to neighborhood residents for the new park.

A Neighborhood Effort Faculty and students help bring second life to Muncie pool site.


Stephanie Schuck, MS ’12, greets an old friend, a sugar maple tree, in Ginn Woods. As a graduate student, she helped Field Station Land Manager John Taylor map all the woods’ canopy trees. She is now a restoration ecologist and environmental educator at Marian University Indianapolis. Photo courtesy of John Taylor


Summer 2021

t was a melancholy day in May 2017 when a swimming pool that had opened in the 1960s in Muncie’s Halteman Village neighborhood closed permanently. The pool’s age and condition were among the factors that led to its closure. As it sat empty through several Indiana Winters, what had been an asset was becoming an eyesore. In Fall 2018, J.P. Hall, MS ’09, assistant professor of Historic Preservation in the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning, decided to get involved. So did the University, which received a Building Better Neighborhoods (BBN) grant to look at options to turn the space into a park. The BBN initiative connects Ball State’s resources with neighborhood development efforts across Muncie and Delaware County. “I always tell people I’m interested in this for selfish reasons and unselfish reasons,” said Hall, a member of the Halteman Village Neighborhood Association. “Selfish because I have kids, and I think they deserve a park and deserve a place to go be kids. But I think it goes beyond kids. I think that, as residents, we deserve to have a public space.” Landscape Architecture students went to the site with Hall to take measurements and formulate

ideas. Then they met with Halteman Village residents, including neighborhood kids, who discussed their wishes for the space. From there, Ball State students began to imagine designs for different aspects of the park that they developed into 3D renderings. The students then shared those with residents for feedback last Summer. Months later, the neighborhood association partnered with Indiana Housing and Community Development, via their CreatINg places program, to fundraise for the new park. As of this Spring, approximately $85,000 has been raised from that platform and an additional $35,000 from other community resources. Demolition of the aging pool by the City of Muncie began this Spring. The city is providing other site improvements, including a pedestrian path. To see the project come so far is inspiring to Hall and his students. “Places like this future park are essential in creating the necessary informal and formal connections between people. It’s these connections that create a sense of community and neighborhood pride,” Hall said. — With reporting by Philip Choroser, ’22

As someone who has spent his career helping others, Dr. Rutledge said he admires how Ball State is guided by a set of enduring values and is committed to serving its neighbors and community. “They are values that make Ball State what it is, but they are also values that matter tremendously in healthcare.”

“Ball State’s innovative approach to education and state of the art, new Health Professions Building make it a premier school for students pursuing a career in healthcare.” — Dr. Scott Edward Rutledge

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New Esports Center Boosts Ball State in Many Ways

A Passion for What Matters At Ball State, graduating senior Aric Fulton challenged himself and others to excel.



new, state-of-the-art Esports Center opened this Spring in the Robert Bell Building. The 3,611-square-foot center features top-of-the-line computers, stadium seating, an interactive classroom with smart display, and more. The College of Communication, Information, and Media is home to Ball State’s Esports program, which includes a varsity team that is among 12 Mid-American Conference members to join the newly created Esports Collegiate Conference. Esports is a fast-growing form of sports competition involving video games. Annually, it attracts some 5 million viewers worldwide. As of 2019, more than 130 colleges have esports-based programs. “Our program and new facilities will help us achieve our goal of enhancing academic offerings by bringing esports experiences into curricula across multiple disciplines, including digital sports production, business, computer sciences, animation, and sport administration,” said CCIM Dean Dr. Paaige Turner.

Among Nation’s Best N

ew national rankings reaffirmed the quality of Ball State’s graduate degree programs in teaching and education. The graduate elementary education program tied for 13th in the nation in this year’s U.S. News & World Report “Best Graduate Schools Rankings,” an improvement from last year’s No. 17 ranking. Ball State tied for 22nd in graduate secondary education programs and tied for 29th in curriculum and instruction, a specialty category. The University ranked 91st in the nation in overall graduate education programs, which are part of Teachers College. “These rankings align with our belief that higher education should be the beginning of a lifelong quest for knowledge, solutions, and service,” said Adam Beach, dean of Ball State’s Graduate School. “We live that by exposing our students to an innovative, collaborative learning experience—brought to life by talented faculty and dedicated staff.”


Summer 2021

ric Fulton, ’21, has traveled far since his first year at Ball State. He recalls jumping up and down with excitement when he learned he’d been accepted to the University, but after arriving on campus as a first-generation student, he felt discouraged. Before his sophomore year, he committed to a new direction, telling himself: “‘Yo, you’re in charge of this experience, so you have to put yourself out there. You have to make choices that are going to get you the experience that you want.’” This Spring, Fulton was selected for the one-year Newman Civic Fellowship. He was chosen among a select group of students from across the country who were considered for leadership skills and a commitment to finding solutions to significant challenges facing their communities. In nominating Fulton, President Geoffrey S. Mearns described him as “a student leader deeply committed to our University’s ambitious goal of Inclusive Excellence.” Fulton helped co-found the Student Anti-Racism and Intersectionality Advisory Council, and he helped create two new courses focused on racial understanding and empowerment. Volunteering in Muncie for two youth organizations, he established a college scholarship for students at his Hammond, Indiana, high school and donated the first $500 from wages he earned working a Summer internship. Fulton, a Journalism Education major and African American Studies minor, will pursue a master’s degree in Urban Education Policy next Fall at Brown University on a full academic scholarship. He admits it was hard at first to convince himself he could truly make a difference in others’ lives. “But, my experience working with strong-minded, kindhearted, resilient, and community-oriented people across campus has proved otherwise,” he says. Courses and conversations with faculty also helped Fulton understand his earlier experiences attending schools in lower-income neighborhoods. “Growing up, I didn’t personally know anyone who had a college degree,” Fulton said. “I feel there is a need for Black people in education—teachers, administrators, policymakers—and I feel it is my responsibility to fill that need, so people who come after me have a better experience.” — Tim Obermiller

Photo by Bobby Ellis

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A Crown and a Message

Engaging Educator

As Miss Ball State, Anastasia Sharp-Keller shares experiences to encourage mental health awareness.

Recognizing his outstanding contribution to the scholarship of engagement, Adam Kuban was presented the 2021 Brian Douglas Hiltunen Faculty Award by the Indiana Campus Compact, a partnership of colleges and universities dedicated to preparing college students to advance the public good in their communities. Since 2014, the associate professor of Journalism has worked with more than 40 Ball State students and six community partners to prepare and deliver accepted presentations at 30 academic conferences and juried film festivals. Two of his students received regional Emmy nominations for their work on Downstream: Connecting Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico. Another Kuban-led documentary is the award-winning Match Point: The Rise of Boys’ and Men’s Volleyball. Kuban said he’s “very appreciative for the students with whom I’ve worked over the years, some in multiple iterations of the projects that I’ve led.”


Summer 2021


on’t be misled by her smile that outshines her sparkly crown. Miss Ball State Anastasia Sharp-Keller, ’21, takes her role seriously. As Miss Ball State, Sharp-Keller—a first-generation Psychological Science major who graduated in May—adopted a new initiative this year: mental health care and awareness. Her platform grew out of a meeting during the Fall semester with President Geoffrey S. Mearns. She explained how she felt comfortable at Ball State due to the University’s pandemic response and focus on supporting students’ mental and physical health. The topic is close to Sharp-Keller’s heart. Like many of her peers, she wrestled with anxiety and depression in her younger years after setbacks, including deteriorating vision she suffered until surgery in high school corrected the condition. At the same time, some schoolmates bullied both Sharp-Keller and her brother, who has highfunctioning autism. Things got better for both after they transferred to another school, and her mental health continued to improve thanks to therapy and support from her family and friends.

Prepared for the Next Step A new program emboldens business students to prepare for their futures.


very time Morgan Jones went to a SOAR class this past Fall, she felt one step closer to starting her post-college career in marketing and sales. “This course gave me more knowledge about the career I am interested in and careers I did not think about going into,” said Jones, who is from Warsaw, Indiana. She was among more than 475 Miller College of Business students enrolled this past Fall semester in SOAR (Success, Opportunity, Acumen, and Readiness). It is a new, required program for business majors that provides learning opportunities about career exploration and professional development. For successive Fall semesters, SOAR students take the 100-level “Introduction to Miller College and World of Business,” followed by “Job Skills Search,” and they conclude with the 300-level “Transition to the Profession” course. SOAR also offers many immersive experiences and student activities, including connecting with an alumni mentor, getting involved with community service, and internships. Dr. Stephen Ferris, the Bryan Dean of the College of Business, facilitated the initiative to boost student fulfillment and alumni engagement. “Students in the SOAR Program are offered valuable, life-changing

immersive experiences and student activities to partake in during their college career,” he said. “SOAR is designed to provide our students with valuable skills that will allow them to become well-rounded professionals ready for the next step in life.” Ashley Calderon, MCOB’s director of Student Retention and Success, noted that alumni are vital to SOAR, whether mentoring students or serving on the program’s advisory board. “They work closely with us to develop curriculum, and they’re instrumental in making sure we are on the right track to develop the next generation that industry wants,” she said. Jones said she’s grateful that SOAR has given her a clear path toward joining the workforce after graduation. It is one example of a comprehensive approach that elevates Ball State and MCOB for current and future students alike. Alumni are invited to register to be a mentor on Cardinals Connect for the 200-level class in the Fall. — Ball State Marketing and Communications Staff

Finding purpose Competing in pageants at her mother’s suggestion also helped Sharp-Keller boost her confidence and self-esteem. Sharp-Keller has been in the Miss America organization, competing locally, since she was 12. She intends to compete for the Miss Indiana crown this Summer. Sharp-Keller’s Ball State student experience positively impacted her mental health, too. “Every professor and staff person at Ball State was so kind and helpful. That eased a lot of my anxiety. I felt like I belonged. I felt more confident. I felt like I had a purpose,” she explained. Sharp-Keller’s 2019-2020 Miss Ball State reign was extended due to COVID-19. Coping with the pandemic became a theme, as she has reached out to fellow students and others through videos and on social media. She has encouraged them to seek help through Counseling Center services if needed, and “to be one another’s support systems. We need to be there for each other.” Looking ahead, her career goal is to open a private practice that serves children with autism spectrum disorders. Sharp-Keller intends to pursue a master’s degree in clinical mental health, followed by a doctorate. — Landa Bagley

Above: Joel Whitesel, ’89 MA ’90, director of Instructional Support at Ball State, discusses SOAR advantages with MCOB students.

Photo by Bobby Ellis

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Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Back to Live

Rafter teaches a beginning musical theatre student in his “Introduction to the Singing Actor” course.

Broadway musical director and Ball State professor Michael Rafter reflects on a year unlike any other.

Lights On

Photos by Bobby Ellis


ight months after celebrated musical director, conductor, performer, and arranger Michael Rafter joined Ball State as an associate professor of Musical Theatre, “the world shut down,” he said. It was March 2020. Rafter had flown to New York to music-direct Ball State Theatre and Dance students in a showcase for industry professionals and to collaborate on the Senior Musical Theatre Capstone Cabaret with Tony Award winner Sutton Foster, who also teaches at Ball State. He then performed a concert with Foster— who has worked with Rafter on many projects over the years—before departing for the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa to coach voice students. He flew back to Muncie on a Sunday, and Ball State suspended in-person classes that Monday. As Rafter transitioned to online instruction, he watched helplessly as the COVID-19 pandemic crippled the entertainment industry— from Broadway to community theater.

12 Summer 2021

“Wild. It was wild,” said Rafter, who won an Emmy Award for his work on the television adaption of Gypsy and lent his musical talents to nine Broadway shows—most recently as musical director for the critically acclaimed Violet, with Foster in the title role. “You can teach our craft virtually—it’s not ideal, but we made it work last Spring,” he said in an April interview. However, when Ball State moved to a combination of online and in-person learning in the Fall, Rafter said he found the mix somewhat jarring. “But this semester, I have more students in person, and it’s wonderful,” he said. “We can really dig in, as a class, to the work and support each other as artists.” When students shared their experiences about COVID-19’s impact on their training and future, Rafter repeated to them what he’s told his daughter, who graduated from college as a theater major last year. “We are going to get over this pandemic, but the when of it is going to take a while. But

“People crave live performances. It’s a gift and an unforgettable experience with a group of strangers. We will get back there, eventually, and I’ll be one of the first in line.” —Michael Rafter

you are an artist, and you have spent your educational career learning how to be malleable and innovative. If you try something and it doesn’t work, you pivot and figure out another way. “That’s what we’ve got to do—as individuals and as an industry.” For Ball State performers, that meant adjustments such as moving outdoors or livestreaming virtual events, sometimes with unmasked actors performing in different rooms.

Back to Broadway Although the country moved closer to normal after COVID-19 vaccination distribution this Spring, Rafter said it will take years for many theater spaces to bounce back to pre-COVID-19 operations, if they bounce back at all. “For Broadway to get back up and running, people need to feel safe to pack into theaters. Broadway can’t afford to run shows and open theaters with people seated six feet apart. And people have to have the disposable income to travel and pay babysitters and buy tickets. “It’s going to take a village, with everyone giving a bit. Landlords are going to have to give a bit on what they are asking for rent, and producers might not need to take as much as they are taking, and theaters might need to reduce ticket prices.

“Once you have something as dramatic as this, you can’t go back to the way things were. The industry will never be as it was. Is that all bad? No. We’ve found some of these virtual modalities are useful. We’ve learned to make and share recordings, we no longer feel the need to fly people in for this or that.” Despite these adaptations, nothing will replace live theater, Rafter said. Audiences will always prefer being in the same space as the actors and musicians—seeing them, feeling their energy. There’s nothing like it, he said. He was reminded of that this Spring as he walked into New York City’s famed City Center to participate in the live filming of Sutton Foster | Bring Me to Light. The concert premiered in April, with on-demand viewing available through May. The concert featured Foster’s friends and fellow Broadway actors, as well as Ball State musical theatre major Wren Rivera, who is a student of Foster’s. “It was magical,” Rafter said of being together on stage. “People crave live performances. It’s a gift and an unforgettable experience with a group of strangers. We will get back there, eventually, and I’ll be one of the first in line.” — Kate H. Elliott

“My senior year of high school, I played the iconic Sutton Foster role of Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. Four years later, it’s my senior year at Ball State and Sutton Foster and Michael Rafter have invited me to perform at the New York City Center for Sutton’s Bring Me to Light concert,” music theatre major Wren Rivera wrote on Instagram. The pay-for-view concert premiered in April and also featured three of Foster’s Broadway colleagues. Rivera is an actor, singer, and dancer who appeared most recently on the Ball State stage in She Kills Monsters as Tilly and in Twelfth Night as Viola/Cesario.

“Thank you to my family at Ball State for making this happen.” —Wren Rivera

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Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Mind and Movement

Eye-POPping Exhibition

Indya Childs (at right) looks on as students work on choreography fueled by online discussions with invited guests.

For Ball State’s first official dance film, students were inspired to connect their thoughts with performance.


orks showcasing the biggest names in Pop art were on display this Spring at Ball State’s David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA). With selections from one of the most comprehensive Pop art collections in the U.S., the exhibition provided “a fun, irreverent look at the low-brow, high art of the last several decades,” said DOMA Director Robert G. La France. “From comic strips to balloon dogs, POP Power from Warhol to Koons: Masterworks from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation explores Pop art as a historical movement and the groundwork for today’s Neo-Pop artists, such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst,” La France said. The exhibition extended DOMA’s commitment to post-war American and international art.

Andy Warhol, American (1928-1987), Campbell’s Soup II: Cheddar Cheese (II.63), 1969, screenprint. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ Licensed by Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Photo by Ceth Williams

F Learn more about PlySpace and its residency program at


Summer 2021

or Atlanta-based artist Indya Childs, the COVID-19 pandemic and last Summer’s social unrest fueled a passion for urging fellow artists to speak out. “As artists, we must reflect the times,” Childs said. She took that effort to another level by working directly with 13 students to create Ball State’s first official dance film this Spring. Ball State’s Department of Theatre and Dance and PlySpace, an immersive artist-inresidency program of the Muncie Arts & Culture Council, combined forces to make it happen. “Indya is known for her ability to engage the community,” said Melanie Swihart, assistant teaching professor of Dance, who collaborated

with Childs on the project. “This was very much about involving students as artists in a wider world of community to have a conversation and plant seeds of change.” Peace, Love and Dance premiered April 30– May 1 on The film’s ethos was informed by four public online discussions— covering politics, racial injustice, female empowerment, and art—arranged by Childs. For the discussions, Childs matched Ball State faculty and alumni with artists, activists, instructors, and political commentators from Atlanta, Chicago, and elsewhere. Childs connected students’ creativity based on questions raised by the discussions, Swihart said. “That fueled everything, right up to the filming.”

It was up to the dancers to convey their reactions to divergent local and non-local perspectives. “They were asked to create solo material based on their own individual identities—how they move and think,” Childs said. “The idea was to help them honor their differences and realize we all intersect at some point.” PlySpace residencies provide living quarters and access to studio amenities and typically span four to 12 weeks. Due to the pandemic, Childs’ residency was compressed into two intense weeks of filming that followed six weeks of dance instruction via Zoom from a studio in Atlanta. For dramatic effect, actual filming by Joshua Cleveland, Childs’ colleague and fellow PlySpace resident artist, took place only after sundown. “I could definitely feel the energy shift when I got to work with the students in person,” Childs said. Throughout the process, she urged the students, “I know you have opinions. Let’s bring them into our art!” — Susan DeGrane

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Learning and Feelings MCS-Ball State partnership encourages kids’ emotional and social growth.


Above: Maralee Frush, ’17, a behavior intervention coach at South View Elementary, teaches in a social and emotional learning classroom that is one of the first in the school district. Photos by Bobby Ellis


Summer 2021

Left: A child’s worksheet allows him to express how he is feeling that day. Social emotional learning helps students identify their feelings, the first step in controlling them.

n times past, conventional wisdom held that when students came to school, they left their emotions at the door to focus on learning. These days, however, extensive research shows that helping children develop emotional regulation skills can significantly improve their academic success and lifetime outcomes. One benefit of the historic partnership between Ball State and Muncie Community Schools (MCS) has been the implementation of social and emotional learning (SEL) as an essential pillar in supporting MCS students. Jenny Smithson is director of special education at MCS and leads the district’s focus on SEL skills, which include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decisionmaking. The skills are part of the framework developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Thanks to the close MCS-Ball State collaboration, SEL skills are now being woven into MCS students’ daily routines and curriculum. Smithson, a 2005 Teachers College graduate (’97 MA ’05), explains why SEL is essential for children and their families. “If you ask any parent out there, ‘What do you want for your child from life?’ the first thing they say is not, ‘I hope they learn.’ Instead, it’s, ‘I want them to be happy and successful as an adult.’ Social and emotional learning definitely comes to the forefront of all of those conversations.” The district’s SEL initiative is a multi-tiered support system that includes building-level teams of teachers, school counselors, administrators, and others. The teams meet weekly to discuss options for students who may need academic, behavioral, or social and emotional learning interventions. In addition, Ball State and MCS kicked off an SEL Ambassador Program this past Fall that includes four University faculty who serve on the district SEL Leadership team. The team also includes Smithson, two MCS school psychologists, a Ball State school psychology intern, and a behavior specialist for the district. Dr. Janay Sander, an associate professor and director of the doctoral program in School Psychology, serves as lead SEL ambassador.

In this role, she travels each week to meet with teams at Central High and Southside Middle schools and three of Muncie’s elementary schools.

A sense of belonging Sander said the ambassadors’ goal is to support, not criticize. She describes teachers’ and school administrators’ responses as open-minded, collaborative, humble, and grateful for the support. The SEL initiative reflects a shift in mindset, says Smithson. For example, “instead of thinking of a child as attention-seeking, think of them as connection-seeking. They’re looking for a connection with you or others, and they may not know yet how to get it.” “When you feel safe emotionally and connected to your peers in your school community,” Sander noted, “you feel that sense of belonging in the building.” “Everyone has struggles. Being able to be authentic and get support when you need it really helps when students are facing stressful situations at home, or they’re facing a stressful situation in school with a task that’s really hard or frustrating. “It just changes the whole tone—from ‘there’s something wrong with me’ to ‘I have people who can support me.’” — Nicole Thomas, ’21

SEL Advantages


Improvement in students’ social and emotional skills, attitudes, relationships, academic performance, and perceptions of classroom and school climate


Decline in students’ anxiety, behavior problems, and substance use


Long-term improvements in students’ skills, attitudes, pro-social behavior, and academic performance


Wise financial investment according to costbenefit research Source: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

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New Regional Coalition Formed

Photo by Robbie Mehling

East Central Indiana counties join forces for future success.



Into the Heartland Students explore and share what it means to be a Midwesterner.


ost Americans outside the Midwest have a fixed impression of the region—sensible, rural, conventional. But people who live here know the reality is more complex. Over two semesters, 32 undergraduates explored myths, misconceptions, and truths about the Midwest and its people. Their investigations led to a podcast series and an exhibit this Spring at the Minnetrista Cultural Center. “The thing that I’ve taken away the most from this is just new perspective,” said Garrett Riley, an English Education major. “My experience is not everybody’s experience in the Midwest, and getting new voices on gender, sexuality, and race has been a really eye-opening experience.” Assistant Teaching Professors of English Andrea Wolfe, ’02 MA ’04 PhD ’10, and Kathryn Ludwig led the immersive Fall and Spring courses, assisted by graduate students. In the first semester, Wolfe’s students read novels depicting Midwestern life in the past and then collected stories from real Midwesterners. Some interviewed family members, making the project a personal and impactful one. Students composed and recorded voiceovers for the podcast series, Stories from the Heartland, which was produced by Ball State’s on-campus agency, Digital Corps. This Spring, Ludwig’s students looked at representations of the present Midwest to create a multimedia experience at Minnetrista that shares compelling narratives highlighting the region’s diversity. Ludwig explained, “Visitors learned about people like Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown, who has started a group that celebrates Black girls, and Bibi Bahrami, a Muncie resident and refugee who works to help women and children in Afghanistan.”

Above: Students and professors break for a photo while assembling the Minnetrista exhibit. Right: Sarah Morrow discusses her panel “Industry to Artistry” with fellow student Emma Cieslik.


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English Literature major Sarah Marrow, who enrolled both semesters, said the projects helped her develop marketable skills that she will “put forward towards my professional career in the future.” Both semesters’ projects were made successful “by an unbelievable group of students and a very invested community partner in Minnetrista,” said Ludwig. “We also relied on guest speakers from across the University who were willing to share their expertise with us so that we could tackle this capacious topic. “It has certainly been a highlight of my teaching career, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.” — With reporting by Sam Mumbower, ’21

all State’s recent involvement in a new collaboration of East Central Indiana (ECI) counties reflects the University’s mission to serve our neighbors and communities near and far. The collaboration earned the designation as a 21st Century Talent Region by the State of Indiana. It recognizes the work of more than 70 leaders from 50 private and public institutions in Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Rush, and Wayne counties who joined forces to create a framework for future success. A total of 58 of Indiana’s 92 counties have been recognized as 21st Century Talent Regions. “With this new designation and continued collaboration across the region, we are building a better and brighter future for everyone in East Central Indiana,” President Geoffrey S. Mearns said. “The common goal of the 21st Century Talent Region designation has catalyzed new relationships and collaborative planning across counties that are essential for East Central Indiana’s future,” said Tom Kinghorn, ’65 MA ’66, president and CEO of the George and Frances Ball Foundation, which spearheaded the effort with support from Ball State.

Key goals The University’s Office of Community Engagement serves as a backbone organization for the new ECI Talent Collaborative, which connects partners across the region to develop strategies and tools necessary to achieve three primary goals:

Jay Delaware




Wayne Fayette

The new coalition’s priorities include developing talent pipelines in manufacturing, trades, education, healthcare, and technology. “We look forward to helping drive the success of our region’s efforts to enhance the impact of higher education and to bridge the critical gap between education and employment in East Central Indiana,” President Geoffrey S. Mearns said.

• Increase educational achievement Read, watch, and listen at

• Better connect talent to the workforce • Grow our population To attract and retain talent in the region, the ECI Talent Collaborative promotes the regional marketing initiative called Forge Your Path, which includes a website highlighting the area’s distinctive amenities, high quality of life, and employment opportunities. “There is great momentum across our region,” said Erin Moore, associate director, Office of Community Engagement. “In East Central Indiana, there is time and opportunity to design the life you want to live and make a big difference. So much is possible here. We encourage our alumni to come back, explore the region, and see how much has changed.” — Tim Obermiller

You can learn more at

Photo provided by East Central Indiana Regional Partnership

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Shared Tradition F

or third-generation employee Tina Brown, each day on the job fulfills the challenge of “making it work!” Her grandfather, George Hale, served in the plumbing department at Ball State for close to 25 years. Her father, Stan Hale, carried on the tradition as supervisor of moving and storage. Tina Brown, who joined the Ball State family in 2000, is group leader for the University’s pioneering geothermal groundsource heating and cooling system, believed to have been the largest of its kind in the country when it was completed in 2012. “The one thing I absolutely love about my job is the variety of duties and the daily learning that is involved,” she said. “Taking something broken and making it work!” Brown remembers her father taking her and her two brothers to campus to explore when they were kids. Her memories include “football practices and games; Cooper Physical Science Building, full of all the displays; Christy Woods; the art museum, and craft classes.” Brown worked in Ball State Dining Services before assuming her current role. The change of career paths involved a three-year training position in HVAC and courses at Ball State and then Ivy Tech to finish her science degree with an HVAC concentration. Her grandfather and father were still alive when she started work at Ball State and were gratified to see her fulfilling the dreams they had for her. “It made my dad proud because I had done it on my own. He loved his campus family and enjoyed introducing me to them.” Brown is “proud and honored” to be part of both a family tradition and the small army of University employees dedicated to keeping the campus functioning like clockwork, despite challenges ranging from bad weather to the recent pandemic. “I have two favorite campus seasons,” says Brown. “August, when all the new students arrive, ready to grow and learn.” And Spring, “with bright futures and graduates ready to fly.” — Tim Obermiller

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Photo by Bobby Ellis

Tina Brown is a group leader for the University’s pioneering geothermal system. (Inset) She holds photos of her grandfather and father, also proud Ball State employees.

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READY FOR MORE Ball State football ready to sustain momentum after historic season.

Photo by Samantha Blankenship

Cardinal players celebrate their Arizona Bowl victory that capped a seven-game winning streak, including a MAC title—achievements placing the team among the greatest in Ball State history.


Summer 2021



o say there’s a ton of optimism around the prospects for the 2021 Ball State football team would surely qualify as an understatement. After coming off its first outright MAC championship since 1996, the team defeated Mountain West Conference champs San Jose State, 34-13, in the 2020 Arizona Bowl, marking the first-ever bowl win in Ball State history. In final Associated Press and Coaches Poll rankings, the Cardinals ranked 23rd nationally. Adding to the optimism is the fact that 20 starters from last year’s team will return this upcoming season. “We never take anything for granted, but we’re very hopeful and can’t wait to get going,” said Mike Neu, ’94, head football coach since 2016. “This is a well-grounded team, and a team that’s working harder than any I’ve had here in the past. I can promise our fans we’ll not be resting on our laurels.” Of the 20 returning starters, 16 are seniors from last year who took advantage of an extra year of eligibility offered by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “If you follow college football, you know the transfer portal is very active,” Neu said. “The fact that these seniors want to be a part of Ball State football again is something we all greatly value and appreciate.” Quarterback Drew Plitt is among those 16 seniors and will be leading Ball State as the starter for the third-consecutive year. “Drew just makes everyone around him better,” Neu said. “I can’t even begin to put into words how important it is to have him with us again.” Adding to the excitement is the opening of the Scheumann Family Indoor Practice Facility (see more on p. 40). “It’s one of the best indoor football practice buildings I’ve ever seen,” Neu said. “It’s simply a game-changer for us.” The non-conference portion of the Fall schedule includes the first trip in school history to Big 10 powerhouse Penn State, as well as a trip to Wyoming. And for the first time since 2013, the Cadets of Army will return to Muncie to face the Cardinals in Scheumann Stadium. “No doubt we have a challenging non-conference schedule, and our MAC schedule is always tough,” Neu said. “But that’s how we want it, and I think the fans are in store for some great football.” Speaking of fans, Neu remains hopeful the COVID-19 situation will allow as many as possible into the stands in 2021. “As of right now, we don’t know how the Fall will look in that regard,” he said. “But we do know our fans are the lifeblood of our football team, and let’s hope we can welcome them back in big numbers.” — Dan Forst, ’85

September 2

September 11

September 18

September 25

October 2

October 9

October 16

October 23

November 2

November 10

November 17

November 23

Western Illinois

@ Penn State

@ Wyoming

Toledo (Family Weekend)


@ Western Michigan

@ Eastern Michigan

Miami (Homecoming)

@ Akron

@ Northern Illinois

Central Michigan


For ticket info, visit

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March Madness Gets Cardinal Assist


all State was selected as a host institution for the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that was solely held in venues across Indiana. The University hosted games played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home of the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever. According to Josh Rattray—assistant director of Athletic Communications who also served as media coordinator for the games—it was a memorable experience resulting in:

practices hosted

games hosted

press conferences managed

Emma Peeler


all State women’s tennis won its third MAC championship in the past five years in a season that featured 22 consecutive wins and an overall regular season mark of 22-3, with only one loss coming in conference play. The Cardinals’ stellar season also resulted in a trip to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in school history, both under eighth-year head coach Max Norris.

media members served at Ball Statehosted games

Ball State staff and students participating

number of basketballs chased down during free throw practice


all State baseball has a new career strikeout leader. On April 23, senior right-handed pitcher John Baker recorded his 358th strikeout, eclipsing the old mark of 357 set in 2002 by Bryan Bullington who, in that same year, was the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft. Baker, a finance major from Hartland, Michigan, entered the 2021 season as the active Division I college baseball career strikeout leader. His career honors at Ball State include being named to the 2019 All-MAC first team, as well as being named to Collegiate Baseball’s preseason All-American third team in both 2019 and 2020. Baker was selected by the Miami Marlins in the 29th round of the 2019 MLB Draft, but elected to return to Ball State for his senior seasons in 2020 and 2021 (he was given an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

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inspiring you to reach your goals

Amazing opportunities await you in the advanced degree and certificate programs offered by the Graduate School at Ball State. Inspiring faculty and innovative learning experiences on our vibrant campus will empower you to grow, thrive, and take flight in your career. We’ll meet you where you are and help you achieve your aspirations.


Expectations This Spring, we asked several people to share their hopes, dreams, and predictions for the University based on their experiences as students, faculty, administrators, community leaders, and alumni. Each has a unique perspective, but shares a strong belief that when it comes to Ball State’s future, the best is yet to come.


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JORDYN BLYTHE Motivated to Affect Change


or Jordyn Blythe, embracing future challenges also means learning from the past. One such lesson hit home for the Honors College student last Summer, when Blythe learned from her father the story of her first-born brother’s death decades ago as an infant. “The doctor was very dismissive and told my parents to wait until Monday to bring him in. He died that Sunday,” she said. “I refuse to believe if my parents were white that would have happened.” Her family’s tragedy and a growing desire to address systematic racism are motivating her to consider a career aimed at resolving health and race-related disparities. “I’m really interested in disparities affecting Black women,” said Blythe, a Communication Studies and Political Science double major set to graduate in Spring 2022. Whether she chooses among her options to work for not-for profits or pursue a career in law or politics, she’s already displayed considerable mastery related to leadership and affecting change. Empowered by parents who place a high value on community involvement, Blythe came to the University, having formed the Black Student Union at her high school in Normal, Illinois. At Ball State, she co-founded the Student Anti-Racism and Intersectionality Advisory Council, volunteered as a Cardinal Corps Ambassador, was vice president for the Student Government Association, and president of the Delta Phi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a Black sorority. Blythe attends the University on a Whitinger Scholarship, which recognizes exceptionally talented Honors College students and is considered Ball State’s most prestigious scholarship. She said the college was “a huge draw” for deciding to attend Ball State. “The Honors College teaches you how to be a good person, an ethical person, and to listen to different perspectives, to come together to create something beautiful from that.” Blythe shines as a dynamic communicator, having participated on Ball State’s Speech Team since freshman year. She’s also already completed requirements for a Spanish minor. Looking to the future, she urged Ball State to intensify ongoing efforts to construct a more inclusive curriculum supporting a free exchange of ideas. “As long as Ball State continues creating more outlets for students to express their opinions and feel they’re being heard, the University will be advancing more rapidly,” she said. — Susan DeGrane

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Encouraging Potential

Teaching Lab Skills With Lasting Impact



s a Music Education major at Ball State, Ben Yoder, ’07, remembers when his professors outlined an approach to teaching that spoke directly to his future. The idea: create independent musicians—ones able to learn on their own. Yoder shifted his focus to how to go about cultivating self-reliant musicians—a focus he now applies as orchestra director and music teacher at Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate & Junior High School in Fishers, Indiana. Orchestras he’s directed have received superior rankings and earned top honors at music festivals in Indiana and beyond, and in 2020 Yoder was named the state’s Middle School Music Educator of the Year. For him, “it’s about getting kids to play, enjoy, and appreciate music. My job is to get them ready to leave the nest. I want them to be able to figure this out on their own when I’m no longer there.” Each year, Yoder teaches some 200 sixth through eighth graders. Most start not knowing how to read a musical note or hold an instrument. But before long, they’re preparing to perform in a school concert. “We’re going to go through this together,” Yoder tells them. “We’re a team.” Several of his former students have even gone on to teach music, bringing Yoder’s nurturing of their future growth full circle. For his ability to help create the next generation of independent musicians and learners, Yoder is grateful to the professors who put him on the right path. One way he shows that appreciation is though service as president of the Young Alumni Council (YAC). Through social events, service projects, and career resources, YAC empowers and engages the University’s fastest-growing alumni population. The council is also advancing the notion that giving back is not just about donating, but about guiding and shaping Ball State’s future. Yoder’s own hopes for Ball State include continuing to build a community of equity and inclusion—“one that gives everyone the tools they need to succeed.” Yoder’s term as president ends soon, and his service to YAC will also conclude when his 2007 class year puts him past YAC’s definition of a young alumnus: one who graduated 15 or fewer years ago. But just as he plans to continue helping his young students meet their musical potential, Yoder knows he will continue to support Ball State’s pursuit of a bright future. — Susan DeGrane

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ayla T.C. Lee is determined to provide highimpact educational experiences that will change the lives of her students and the people they may help after graduation. The assistant professor of Psychological Science also identifies herself as a Hoosier intent on giving back to the people of her native state. As a first-generation college student who earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology, Lee appreciates that many Ball State students are also first generation. Lee knew she wanted to continue her education after college but, in hindsight, realized, “I didn’t understand a lot about how graduate education worked.” She strives to provide a clearer path for her students. Among her priorities, Lee sets the goal for her master’s degree candidates to show a proven ability to execute the research process. Since 2015, she has guided students through studies conducted through the Personality and Psychopathology (P2) Lab, which she directs. The lab investigates personality and cognitive influences on mental disorders and how to best assess these influences in clinical practice. The goal is to improve treatment for people experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties. While her students may not choose to do research post-graduation, they develop skills in the lab—such as time and resource management, critical thinking, and effective communication—that will serve them well, Lee explained. “Those are the kinds of skills employers are looking for,” she said. Taking students outside of the lab setting, Lee partnered with Janay Sander, associate professor of Educational Psychology, on a community research project aimed at helping at-risk youth served by the Youth Opportunity Center (YOC) in Muncie. Working with YOC’s clinical services team, “we’ve already helped to revamp some of their clinical processes,” Lee said. The essential lesson from her face-to-face work is personalization. “When we sit and get to know the kid in front of us, the work we do is much more effective in helping us help them and their families.” Lee plans to continue providing educational experiences that empower her students to positively impact lives in Indiana and communities like Muncie. “I’m hopeful that Ball State will continue to serve the needs of Indiana in terms of turning out young adults who make a difference,” she said. — Susan DeGrane

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Investing in Muncie’s Future

Preparing Citizens of the World



dam Unger, ’02, president of Muncie-based Accutech Systems, sits at the helm of a rapidly growing company. In recent years, he’s heard some well-meaning advice: “If you want that growth to continue, you need to move the company to the Indianapolis area.” His response speaks volumes. Accutech, a leading software company for the wealth management industry, recently invested $5.5 million to purchase and redevelop the former Sears Building in downtown Muncie. Employing 85 people at its new location and 30 remote workers across the country, the company has grown five-fold in the past 10 years. Unger is optimistic that growth will continue. The decision to remain in Muncie shows his confidence in the renaissance and economic viability of the area and in the bright future he envisions for his alma mater. “I believe that God puts us in places to make an impact,” he said. “There’s a fantastic talent pool right in this area for our business, and Ball State has a lot to do with that. Our decision to stay here and expand was in no small part based on Ball State’s growth and what we saw as a tremendous, forwardlooking University strategic plan.” This year, Accutech received the University’s Community Partner of the Year award for the company’s work with senior-level computer science students. “Currently, approximately 40 percent of our team has a degree from Ball State,” Unger said. “We love working with current students as interns or in other capacities so they can experience our culture firsthand and see if we might be a career match for them. That’s proved invaluable for us, both in terms of giving back and helping us grow.” Unger, who graduated from Burris Laboratory School and majored in Telecommunications at Ball State, also holds a graduate certificate in Business Administration. “Accutech runs on the singular principle of making great things happen for other people,” Unger said. “And from my time at Burris until I graduated from Ball State, that’s what so impressed me about the University, the desire to help other people succeed. “Ball State operates on our very same core principle, and I know that will never change into the future. The University will continue to provide the blueprint for fulfillment to its students, and Accutech will always know it has a tremendous talent pool right in its own backyard.” — Dan Forst, ’85

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o-Anne Royer Engle, who played a crucial role in organizing Ball State’s response to COVID-19, is grateful for online options that helped the University continue operating during the pandemic’s most challenging months. The experience also laid bare an unshakable truth for Royer Engle, vice president of Student Affairs: “If there is one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that the residential college experience will always have a place in higher education.” Students engaging in on-campus activities gain essential soft skills that include teamwork, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, leadership, citizenship, the ability to empathize, and intercultural fluency. “For so many students, it’s through engagement outside the classroom that they figure things out about themselves. They discover their passions and interests they didn’t know they had. For some, that turns into a career.” Student Affairs supports student co-curricular engagement and fulfillment in many areas, including Housing and Residence Life, Student Life, the Multicultural Center, Student Center Programs, the Career Center, Counseling and Health Services, Disability Services, and Health Promotion and Advocacy. Since arriving at Ball State in 2000, one key question for Royer Engle has been: “Are we creating spaces and a place where people feel they belong and have a voice?” Her answer can be seen in her leadership on Inclusive Excellence, including work on several aspects of a new strategic plan guiding Ball State’s current and future efforts. Inclusive Excellence “should be our way of operating. We have a moral obligation to include Indiana residents who face challenges accessing higher education and to support them in the best ways possible.” To help fulfill that obligation, Student Affairs expanded its support for growing numbers of Black and Latinx 21st Century Scholars. It also began utilizing digital technology to identify at-risk college students early and help all students achieve fulfillment. Royer Engle sees Ball State providing even more opportunities for all students to connect with people of different backgrounds and to learn from those who hold different views. “That is what makes the residential college experience so special,” she said. “That’s what prepares our students to become citizens of the world.” — Susan DeGrane

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Meeting Challenge With Innovation

Bullish About Ball State



ebeca Mena, ’21, has zero doubts about Ball State’s ability to boldly meet whatever challenges lie ahead. That confidence is the product of her experience as a student representative on the Board of Trustees during a time when the University faced challenges in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted normal life across the country. “You know a leader when you have a moment of crisis,” said Mena. “The University could have chosen two different pathways—either adapt and innovate or shut down. “The refusal of our trustees, campus leaders, and the entire campus community to take that easier path impressed me so much. Everyone had the same intention: to finish the semester with our heads really high. And the pathway to that goal was innovation, which is one of Ball State’s most remarkable traits.” This Spring, Mena graduated and concluded her service to the Board. She said her biggest contribution as a trustee was offering her perspectives as a STEM major, research scholar, and Latinx woman—but mostly just as a representative student. To help broaden her perspective, she frequently engaged the insights of fellow students. Assistant Professor of Chemistry Mary Konkle was among those who urged Mena to apply to become a student trustee. Mena regards her as an important mentor. As a Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation research scholar and peer mentor, Mena performed research in Konkle’s research lab on the function and behavior of MitoNEET protein. Lab research was not on her radar when she came to Ball State. Mena was born in Virginia but raised in Venezuela. She enrolled in a dentistry college that closed due to the country’s economic crisis. Her parents, both missionaries, urged her to go to Muncie, stay with her godparents, and finish college there. Her godfather, a senior pastor at a local church, advised Mena to work awhile before attending Ball State in order to get acclimated. As a medical interpreter, she came to appreciate the town of Muncie. Though it’s still her intention to become a dentist, her ambitions have grown. Seeing her professors’ dedication “has been one of most impactful things for me,” and she now wants to a pursue an advanced degree in combination with dentistry. “I would love to teach as a professional,” she said, “which is something I never would have thought before at all.” — Tim Obermiller

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ike Ray, ’83, will never forget the investment his father made in him not long after he graduated from high school. He sees it as the foundation of his fulfillment in the business world and his enduring commitment to philanthropy. A member of the Ball State Foundation Board of Directors since 2016, Ray also recalls his father when he considers the future of his alma mater. “After graduating from high school, I was happy working at a waterski shop in my hometown of North Webster, Indiana,” he said. “But my father strongly suggested that I pursue a college degree and paid for me to attend Ball State. “When I think of my University, I realize that encouraging its students to reach for the stars and to give back have always been two guiding principles. Just as my father invested in me, Ball State truly invests in its students.” Ray graduated with a degree in Accounting and Computer Science. He began his career with Coopers & Lybrand and eventually joined Fort Wayne-based Vera Bradley in 1998 as director of finance. After holding several key positions at the company, including in sales and marketing, Ray was named CEO in 2007. He retired in 2013. “Seeing the impact of Vera Bradley’s investment in breast cancer research really opened my eyes and got me thinking about paying things forward,” Ray said. He admires Ball State’s recent bricks-and-mortar improvements, “but my greatest satisfaction is helping students.” Ray is impressed with how President Geoffrey S. Mearns and others are dedicated to ensuring students’ bright futures. “Geoff understands what it takes to compete for students—and the importance of keeping tuition competitive—and has a huge level of engagement with all our critical constituencies. He continues to put Ball State in a position to compete with the larger schools throughout Indiana.” When Ray thinks of Ball State Foundation President Jean Crosby, ’96, he feels even more bullish about the University’s future. “Jean and her team truly understand that there are many ways to engage with alumni,” he said. “Even simple ways are effective—as evidenced by the 184 percent increase in alumni giving on One Ball State Day from the inaugural event in 2019 to giving day 2021. “Everywhere you look, the signs point to great things ahead for Ball State and its students.” — Dan Forst, ’85

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Building for a Bright Future Story by Tim Obermiller | Drone photography by Ben Yonker


hen Ball State was founded in 1918, the campus had just one main structure (now the Bracken Administration Building) on 64 acres donated by the Ball brothers. Today, that number has grown to 109 buildings on 780 acres, with further progress underway as the University brings new improvements to its physical campus in ways that foster collaboration, research, curricular innovation, and community. James Lowe, associate vice president for Facilities Planning and Management, and his team direct architectural, engineering, construction, and operations for Ball State. However, he explained, “our faculty, staff, and students assist with the functional design of our buildings and we rely on their input for guidance.”

“They are the ones that know how best to teach and to learn, today and tomorrow,” he said. “We listen, we program, and we repeat what we heard back to the make sure we have it correct. The exterior and interior design then evolves; form then follows function.” The University’s physical campus will continue to evolve, said Lowe, based on future needs and opportunities as reflected in current and future master and strategic plans that set Ball State’s destination toward a bright future. The following pages offer updates—and some bird’s-eye views—to show how the campus continues to transform for the better in fulfilling Ball State’s mission, goals, and enduring values on behalf of its students.

1 4 2

3 1 The photo shows what remains of LaFollette Complex, which once housed 1,900 when it was built in the 1960s to quickly meet a booming student population. The rest of the complex has been demolished and has been replaced by the new North Residential Neighborhood.

Duck Pond

2 Already completed and opening this past Fall is the North Dining Hall. The 65,000-square-foot facility is now considered the University’s premier dining location, serving everything from down-home barbecue to artisanal pastries. 3 Also opening this Fall, the North Residence Hall is the home for the new STEM Living-Learning Community. 4 Nearing completion is a second residence hall that is expected to open this Fall as home to the Education Living-Learning Community. Each new hall will have 500 beds.


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1 To be completed this Summer, the Foundational Sciences Building is an $87.5 million, five-story structure that will be the home of the chemistry and biology departments and is part of a renovation/partial demolition of the aging Cooper Science Complex. 2 Part of the new East Quad, the 165,000-square-foot Health Professions Building opened in Fall 2019 and is designed for College of Health faculty and students to collaborate across academic disciplines. It also meets a critical statewide demand for skilled, knowledgeable, and adaptable healthcare professionals.

3 When finished, the new 10,500-square-foot Multicultural Center will provide service closer to where students live and study, feature amenities designed to assist and support all students, and will promote Inclusive Excellence. 4 In December, the University announced a gift from alumnus Charles W. Brown, ’71, that will fund an outdoor performance and gathering space. Named the Brown Family Amphitheater, it will be built between Park and Pruis halls and between Noyer and Woodworth complexes.

Multicultural Center rendering by RGCollaborative/Emile Dixon

3 4



Brown Family Amphitheater rendering by RATIO Architects

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Keeping With Traditions With large grassy areas, towering trees, and majestic older buildings, the shady Quad south of the Fine Arts Building marks the original campus and will be preserved for future generations. That tradition is also being expressed in new buildings that maintain a style of architecture embracing our past. In addition, plans call for the creation of more green spaces, while the new buildings themselves are more open and transparent “to give a feeling that the inside and outside are one,” said James Lowe.


Cooper STEM Phase III, Renovation and Partial Demolition renderings by MSKTD/SmithGroup

1 There are many changes planned for the Cooper Science Complex, built in 1967. About 130,000 square feet will be renovated on the building’s west side to serve as home to Physics and Astronomy, Geography, Geology, and Natural Resources and Environmental Management. With Chemistry and Biology moving from the complex’s east end into the Foundational Sciences Building, that section is scheduled for demolition, freeing up the area for a possible outdoor teaching space.

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1 The $15 million Scheumann Family Indoor Practice Facility will open this Summer. With 84,000 square feet of space for football, softball, baseball, and soccer teams, the space also allows the Pride of Mid-America Marching Band and others to train and practice during inclement weather. The structure is named in honor of June and John Scheumann, ’71, who made the lead gift.

Need a career lift?


Greenhouse expansion rendering by arcDesign

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2 Visitors to the 3,400-square-foot Dr. Joe and Alice Rinard Orchid Greenhouse experience a small tropical environment in the middle of Indiana. With over 2,000 orchids, the greenhouse contains the largest university-based orchid collection in America. A planned expansion will increase the greenhouse’s size and create a dedicated community learning space, designed to create an immersive and hands-on learning environment.


Summer 2021

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PROGRESS Almost three years after its launch, our strategic plan is already impacting the University and beyond.


n December 14, 2018, our University made an enormous step in ensuring its bright future. On that day, the Board of Trustees endorsed a new strategic plan for Ball State University. The approval—happening during the University’s Centennial celebration—culminated a months-long process to determine on how best to plan for our second century. A 10-person steering committee appointed by President Geoffrey S. Mearns designed and led the planning process. Its work was guided by a set of principles: it would be collaborative, transparent, data-supported, relevant, actionable, focused, aligned with state goals, and ambitious but also realistic. The committee’s direction was informed by surveys, working groups, and forums involving hundreds of faculty, staff, students, alumni, community partners, and benefactors who shared their ideas, hopes, and dreams for Ball State’s future. A draft of the strategic plan, titled Destination 2040: Our Flight Path, was widely distributed. Revisions based on feedback led to the final document that received Board approval. A new mission statement guides the plan: “We engage students in educational, research, and creative endeavors that empower our graduates to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives enriched

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by lifelong learning and service, while we enhance the economic, environmental, and social vitality of our community, our state, and our world.” Destination 2040 also articulates our enduring values, represented by Beneficence: excellence, innovation, courage, integrity, inclusiveness, social responsibility, and gratitude. The plan provides five long-term goals for 2040 and a small set of strategic imperatives to be executed by 2024. (Read more about the goals on p. 44.) The entire University is now striving to fulfill those goals and imperatives in ways that reflect the mission statement as well as the unique perspectives and strengths of individual colleges and divisions. The following pages feature a few of the hundreds of projects being planned or now underway that were inspired by the strategic plan. All of these projects and objectives aspire, in distinctive ways, to transform students’ lives, strengthen communities, provide economic and social benefit to our region and state, and offer leadership by example across the country and around the world. Each brings our University closer to a destination that is both clear and bright.— Tim Obermiller Visit to learn more about Destination 2040: Our Flight Path and progress already being made across the University and beyond.

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Undergraduate Excellence and Innovation

EMERGING SCHOLARS Honors program creates problem-solving and career-making mentorships.

In her fellowship with professor Ron Morris, Honors College student Gwyneth Harris completed a project for the virtual Hoosier Civil Rights Museum.


heir immersive work ranges from unlocking genetic mysteries and investigating materials for making semi-conductors to unearthing public history that speaks to social change. Students in the Honors Undergraduate Fellows Program become involved in pursuits of excellence and innovation that are hallmarks of the strategic plan’s first goal. Under the leadership of Honors College Dean John Emert, a professor of Mathematical Science, the program is reaching more students than ever before, with more than 50 enrolled this year. Fellows from all fields of study are given the opportunity to collaborate with professors on research projects that yield significant scientific and societal contributions. In just the last two years, History Professor Ron Morris has mentored a dozen Honors Undergraduate Fellows while working on projects related to public history and community engagement. “These fellowships provide experiences that propel students into the future,” Morris said.

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In her fellowship with Morris, History and Anthropology major Gwyneth Harris, ’21, scoured newspaper archives and online public records to create a virtual exhibit about Julia Carson, the first African American and woman to represent Indianapolis in the U.S. Congress. Carson and her home are one of 100 exhibits of people and places in the ongoing virtual Hoosier Civil Rights Museum. “I found this all very exciting and rewarding because my work is being used to educate and spread awareness,” said Harris, who graduated in May and plans to earn a doctorate in History and eventually teach. Morris regularly meets with honors fellows to help them hone strategies for uncovering history. “This is not a lecture. It’s not a recitation,” he said. “There’s a lot of graduatelevel work in this model.” “We’re engaging students in learning and discovery, whether that’s discovery of data or self-discovery,” said Amy Livingstone, associate dean of the Honors College and History professor. “We’re also helping them build valuable professional relationships that can last a lifetime.” — Susan DeGrane

“We’re engaging students in learning and discovery, whether that’s discovery of data or selfdiscovery.” —Amy Livingstone

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Graduate Education and Lifetime Learning

Community Engagement and Impact


ENGAGED BY DESIGN Studio 165+ students are making a lasting impact in Muncie.

New business school programs benefit lifelong learners.

Executive Education programs have been built to meet clients’ unique needs.


hen Dr. Stephen Ferris officially started in his role as the new Bryan Dean of the Miller College of Business (MCOB) in July 2019, he studied the University’s strategic plan and saw a clear opportunity. MCOB was already respected across the country for its first-class student learning experience. But Ferris looked at Goal 2 of the plan—graduate education and lifetime learning— and knew there was work to be done. “When I looked at the business school, I saw that we were doing relatively little to reach out to businesses and industries to benefit them from our extensive skillsets,” Ferris said. “We know that having robust industries and strong businesses adds to the well-being of our communities and indeed of the entire region.”

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What followed was the creation of MCOB’s Executive Learning programs, which match client companies with expert faculty members to solve problems and foster business growth and company profitability. Ferris hired Greg Zirkle to fill the newlycreated position of director of Executive Programs—first to collaborate with MCOB faculty to develop a catalog of available programs, and then to work with regional companies to assess their needs and then design training content that would benefit their business operations. Whether it’s Management & Strategy, Innovation & Leadership, Professional Selling, or Accounting—or perhaps even more customized programming—the Executive Education programs have been built to meet clients’ unique needs. Executive programs include consulting services that help organizations solve unique problems such as stimulating innovation and enhancing communication effectiveness. “We don’t have to bring a cookie-cutter solution to every business,” Zirkle said. “We ask, ‘What are your objectives?’ And once we learn their objective, we might track in a different direction or focus on the creation of an entirely different type of program. So that’s how we’ve built it, by listening to our clients and learning their needs.” But the icing on the cake is when these Executive Learning Programs make a positive impact on Ball State graduates—sticking to those initial Goal 2 hopes. “This is a collaboration with our alums and the friends of alums where we think it can be a win-win,” Ferris said. “We can help them build their business, grow their business, and have more fulfilling business success.” — Andrew Walker, ’14

A list of available programs can be found on the Miller College of Business Executive Education website. Those interested in more information can contact Greg Zirkle at

Identity designs for a Muncie neighborhood reflect one aspect of the studio’s collaborative, real-world problem solving across multiple media platforms.


hen Assistant Professor Shantanu Suman launched an immersive studio course for Visual Communication (graphic design) students in Spring 2017, he didn’t see its purpose directly linked to the Muncie community. Nine semesters and 63 projects later, Suman now regards the studio’s strong connection to Muncie as key to its growing success. “It is the smallest community I have lived in, but it is also the friendliest,” said Suman, who is faculty mentor for the course, titled Studio 165+. “It’s easy to connect with people and I feel like that has been the biggest strength, because it has helped me as well as the studio.” Studio 165+ has so far worked with 16 local and regional clients—a focus that reflects the strategic plan’s third goal of community engagement and impact. Suman worked in advertising in India before moving to the U.S., finishing his master’s and launching his own design studio before joining Ball State’s School of Art. He learned about the University’s strong relationship with Muncie and how receptive the community was about working with students.

He urges students to think of their clients as collaborators. “We are learning from each other.” The name Studio 165+ reflects participants’ weekly commitment of 165 minutes to studio classes, plus the additional dedication to ensure quality results. Those results can be measured in both client satisfaction and 25 international, national, and local design awards. One project with Building Better Neighborhoods (BBN) connects University resources with neighborhood development efforts. Studio 165+ is creating identity designs for 12 local neighborhoods. Many Studio 165+ alumni say it helped launch their careers. “It opened so many doors for me,” said Lauren Fox, ’18, a product designer in Denver. “It demonstrated that I had already worked with a variety of clients”— something most design students don’t experience. She equally appreciates relationships she formed in the community through the studio. “I can still drive through Muncie and see the lasting results of those relationships.” — Tim Obermiller

Shantanu Suman

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Scholarship and Societal Impact

Institutional and Inclusive Excellence



Ball State faculty spearhead a community model offering solutions and hope.

Scholarships help students with huge potential but limited resources.


n 2019, Associate Professor of Health Science Jean Marie Place joined a small group of faculty and staff to discuss how the University could play a more effective role in addressing the problem of addiction. Place and others pointed out that there were many worthwhile prevention, treatment, and recovery programs in the area, “but we were all sort of doing our own things. There wasn’t a lot of talking to each other about our various projects.” From this realization, the Addictions Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) was born. Launched in July 2020, ACDC represents a growing, strategic, community–academic partnership. More than 25 public health groups, businesses, and government agencies are represented. Its members share ideas and combine efforts on a variety of projects—from safe syringe access to rehabilitation and work-training for those in recovery. The coalition also serves as an example of the segment of Goal 4 of the strategic plan that encourages faculty to engage in and connect their scholarship with the surrounding community in ways that can be replicated in other communities. Place, whose research includes maternal opioid-use disorder, sees ACDC as an opportunity for faculty “to share our expertise and experiences”—one she hopes will grow to become a model for similar community partnerships. ACDC directors and co-founders Dane Minnick and Jonel Thaller—assistant and associate professors of Social Work, respectively—have done extensive research in their respective areas of addiction and recovery. “Learning about social work from a text is different than when you’re face-to-face,” Thaller said. “Having this opportunity for students to see what’s happening in real time

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Jean Marie Place is among faculty lending expertise to the new coalition.

in their community is really valuable in the learning process.” To give even more students such opportunities, Minnick is developing an immersive learning course based on ACDC activities that he plans to launch this Fall. It’s one example, he says, of how ACDC “has given me an avenue to use my professional skills to improve conditions in the local community while still operating in my role as a teacher and researcher at Ball State.” For Minnick and all ACDC backers, the biggest reward remains helping people recover from addiction and rejoin with their communities and families. “It’s something I care deeply about,” Place said, “because these people matter.” — Dan Forst, ’85

Randy Pond, ’77

R “It’s something I care deeply about because these people matter.” —Jean Marie Place

andy Pond, ’77, was a senior when he ran out of money. He decided to leave school, work somewhere, maybe in construction, and return with enough money to finish his accounting and economics degree. A grant and a scholarship had helped to subsidize Pond’s tuition, but they weren’t enough. As he prepared for the hiatus, he asked J.B. Black, then dean of Ball State’s College of Business, if he could make certain he would still have his financial aid when he returned. A few days later, Black handed Pond a departmental check for $3,000—funds he had raised with help from friends of the business college.

“It made a huge difference in my life. Like many kids, I was at risk for not coming back.” A first-generation college student from a working-class family in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Pond went on to prosper as a technology executive. Retiring from Cisco Systems as executive vice president of operations, he now serves as chief financial officer of Pensando Systems. He recalled what Black told him about the $3,000 he’d been given: don’t worry about paying it back; your day will come. Pond has embraced the idea of giving back, becoming one of Ball State’s most generous alumni, establishing three scholarships and giving to the Dean J.B. Black Fund to support finance and insurance students. His leadership includes ongoing service on the Ball State Foundation Board of Directors. Whereas Pond’s lifeline came as an informal gift, the University has since established programs for emergency student aid. It has also expanded scholarship and grant programs, some based on need and some on merit. Ongoing efforts to better support students relate to Goal 5 of the strategic plan, which has among its priorities to “create a campus culture of philanthropy and generate more philanthropic support.” Each year, more than 40 percent of Ball State students receive institutional aid. The amount of financial support to students has grown by almost 150 percent in the last 10 years. To continue that momentum, the Foundation is planning a capital campaign, and a key pillar is to expand the University’s financial assistance program. Scholarships are allowing Elementary Education major Tavyn Smith to graduate without debt, which is especially important for those pursuing service-oriented careers. “Being that agent of change in a student’s life is going to feel so great,” Smith said about becoming a teacher. “I get chills thinking about it.” — Nick Werner, ’03

“Being that agent of change in a student’s life is going to feel so great.” —Tavyn Smith

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Meeting Healthcare Challenges, Today and Tomorrow Every day in the new Health Professions Building, College of Health students are preparing to meet the future of healthcare. By Andrew Walker, ’14

Photo by Samantha Blankenship


Summer 2021

 Adam Ballart, ’03, associate lecturer of Spanish, discusses Spanish medical terminology with students in the College of Health’s Obstetrics Simulation Lab, one of the Health Professions Building’s nine simulation and skills laboratories.

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Left: Counseling Psychology doctoral student Shantel Gaillard reads in one of the Health Professions Building’s numerous group study areas. Opposite page: The 165,000-squarefoot structure is designed to promote interprofessional collaboration.


“Interprofessional education is the wave of the future for healthcare, and it’s actually happening right now. These facilities allow our students to work together, learn from each other, and figure out who to consult when they’re out working out in the field.” — Karrie Osborne

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hen Karrie Osborne was an undergraduate nursing student, Ball State’s School of Nursing was packed snuggly into about 5,000 square feet at the Cooper Science Complex on the southwest edge of campus. Osborne, ’01 MS ’12, said the education she received there was top-notch. But she imagined the possibilities for students and faculty—and for the community—if they had more room for classes, simulation labs, and clinics. “It was very tight,” Osborne said. “We just needed more space. We were going to have to grow.” Now, about 20 years later, Ball State’s health professions programs are not only thriving with the space that they need—they have plenty of room for even more growth. In 2019, Ball State opened the doors to its 165,000-square-foot Health Professions Building. The sparkling, $62.5 million structure features classrooms, laboratories, offices, a resource hub, simulation labs and suites, clinical spaces, and much more. Students learn about, from, and with one another in an interprofessional environment, integrating expertise and discovery across health-related disciplines. In total, seven schools and departments, and 16 clinics, centers, and labs, that had been strewn across campus are now under one roof. Osborne, now the College of Health’s director of Clinical Simulation, still marvels at the dramatic transformation.

“This building is beautiful, and there’s light and windows everywhere,” she said. “It really makes a big difference. I think it gives the students a better environment to learn.”

Time to expand Aligned with Ball State’s Campus Master Plan, the University determined a perfect home for its College of Health to be on the south side of Riverside Avenue, as part of a new East Quad. Adding to this quad, a Foundational Sciences Building is being built as the new home for Chemistry and Biology. To achieve its vision, the University received approval and funding necessary from the Indiana General Assembly for both buildings. For completion of this three-phased project, the Indiana General Assembly provided funding to renovate 160,000 square feet of the existing Cooper Science Complex and the demolition of 130,000 square feet of the complex’s east end. The University is planning to include a possible outdoor seating/teaching space along the east end of the building. At an October 18, 2019, ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Health Professions Building, President Geoffrey S. Mearns thanked the Indiana General Assembly for supporting the University’s plan to expand health education to meet the anticipated demand for such professionals in the future. Together with the Foundational Sciences Building and Cooper renovations, the projects ensure the quality of academic facilities for

those pursuing fulfilling careers in healthcare and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields “for decades to come,” said President Mearns. James Lowe, associate vice president of Facilities Planning and Management, believes the University selected an ideal spot for the two new academic buildings. “They’re on a prominent location, and they also allow us to introduce a new gateway into the campus and expand our reach into the Muncie community.” As the first of the East Quad structures to open, the Health Professions Building provides a preview of how form and function perfectly combine in learning spaces built to last for generations to come.

Addressing growing demands Blair Mattern, ’06 AuD ’10, still feels a sense of amazement each morning he walks into the Health Professions Building. Now director of Interdisciplinary Clinical Operations at the College of Health, Mattern was previously director of the Audiology Clinic and remembers how patients often struggled to find the clinic at its former location in the Arts and Communications Building. Both the Audiology and Speech-Language clinics were also running out of room to fulfill demand in the community for their high-quality services. Accordingly, as part of the Health Professions Building’s design, College of

Health leadership and faculty established the Interprofessional Community Clinics (ICC). ICC provides full-service, easily accessible clinics in audiology, counseling, and speechlanguage, as well as the Healthy Lifestyle Center and the Balance Assessment and Rehabilitation Center. Under the supervision of experienced faculty and licensed health professionals, students work closely with community clients to provide them with affordable, quality care. In recent months, ICC has also served as a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, providing a vital service to Ball State students, faculty, and staff, as well as the local community. “The ICC was tailor-made for something just like this,” Mattern said of the vaccination clinic. “People walk in, they go through the process, they go through the facilities, and they’re leaving with an impression of the investment Ball State has made to engage with our community.” The Interprofessional Community Clinics are just one key piece in the development of the Health Professions Building. The five-story facility also includes the Welcome Home Suite that simulates at-home patient care for a variety of health disciplines and promotes other College of Health-sponsored activities. Also new are the Health Library; state-of-the-art classrooms and simulation labs for Nursing, Kinesiology, and other programs; group study areas; and industry-leading audio and video recording equipment that is used to supervise

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students and provide them with feedback on their practice. Also built in are innovative technologies that reduce the building’s impact on the environment. Those features include green roofs, photovoltaic solar panels, an underground stormwater retention system, low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient LED lighting, a design that enhances daylight to reduce energy consumption, and geothermal heating and cooling. The building recently earned a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, affirming the University’s commitment toward sustainable construction and environmental best practices.

The power of a unified focus Overall, the new building supports a central philosophy of the College of Health: interprofessional education and practice in service to the community. In education and clinical practice, collaborative teams represent the future of healthcare, resulting in a more unified, less fragmented system—and better patient care. This intentional approach to interprofessional education has allowed for more physical and educational interaction between departments, providing the opportunity for fresh perspectives and new insights for College of Health students and faculty. “Interprofessional education is the wave of the future for healthcare, and it’s actually happening right now,” Osborne said. “These facilities allow our students to work together, learn from each other, and figure out who to consult when they’re out working out in the field.” Dr. Jayanthi Kandiah, associate dean of academic affairs and professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at the College of Health, said this unified commitment benefits students, faculty, and Ball State’s partners within the community and in the state of Indiana. “Employers tell us Ball State graduates are the most prepared for their professions,” Kandiah said. “Future graduates will be sought after because they will be the best team members anyone can hire. Future leadership in healthcare will come from Ball State University.” The College of Health will continue to build on the success of its collaborative approach with new leadership from Dr. Scott Edward Rutledge, who became its dean this Summer. Rutledge comes to Ball State from Temple University, where he fulfilled various academic

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by employee ambassadors

TOP 3 GIVING TO ACADEMIC AREAS • Theatre and Dance • Athletics • Indiana Academy

TOP 3 GIVING TO COLLEGE • College of Fine Arts • College of Communication, Information, and Media • Teachers College

YEAROVERYEAR INCREASES roles in the School of Social Work and College of Public Health. He has recent experience incorporating a collaborative, innovative approach to interprofessional healthcare education, and says he’s ecstatic to hit the ground running at Ball State. “For me, this is a perfect opportunity because I’m coming from an environment where we were energetically building transdisciplinary education and research for the last seven years,” he said. “Like Ball State, at Temple we recreated ourselves as a new college from a collection of health-related disciplines. “I am proud to join Ball State in bringing programs and people together to create a dynamic synergy of students and community that will improve the health of Indiana and beyond.” 

in alumni, student, parent, and University employee giving

Top: Students overseen by Heather Beane, MA ’15, assistant clinical lecturer of Nursing, simulate care of a patient who will undergo hip-fracture surgery. Above: The Interprofessional Community Clinics serves the community as a COVID-19 vaccination site. Senior Nursing students administered the vaccines while completing clinical hours as part of their Community Health nursing course.


April 5, 2022

TOP 3 ATHLETICS FUNDRAISERS • Field Hockey • Gymnastics • Football

Gifts From All 50 States Top 5 giving states in red

More than

8 million

reached through social media

Class Notes

Class Notes

A Lifetime of Opportunities New Alumni Council leader shares why staying involved is so important.

M From the Alumni Association President “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” — Eleanor Roosevelt This quote seems fitting as we welcome the Class of 2021 as our newest alumni. Think back to Commencement and your own hopes and dreams. Today’s students are experiencing much of this same excitement as they enter “the real world.” In this issue, we celebrate the 2020 Alumni Award winners. During a virtual celebration this Spring, most honorees shared that they never dreamed they would be recognized with such an honor. Each reflected on those who helped—family, friends, faculty, staff, and fellow alumni. As we celebrate both our newest and some of our most accomplished alumni, the impact of the Ball State community is evident. The personal investment alumni make in students through mentoring, with each other in our personal and professional lives, and in Ball State, can be seen all around in the people, programs, and places you all have helped shape. How do alumni keep dreams alive? Well, at Ball State, we CHIRP! Connect • Join Cardinals Connect to mentor— • Find fellow Cardinals on social media Help • Recruit fellow alumni to volunteer or attend an event • Introduce prospective students to Ball State Invest • Give back of your time and talent • Support your passion through gifts Represent • Show your Ball State pride! Wear Cardinal gear and purchase a Ball State license plate • Attend an event—visit our event pages to learn what’s happening Promote • Share your Ball State story • Nominate a fellow Cardinal for an award!

Jamie Acton President, Ball State Alumni Association


Summer 2021

During the pandemic, we did not pause; we pivoted and many of you joined us for everything from life skills development, to virtual trivia nights, to bowl game celebrations. The Alumni Association hosted more than 225 experiences this past year. We hope you took part and will do so again. Visit for the latest information. As we look to the future, help keep dreams alive by being a part of the Ball State community … and keep on chirping. Together, WE FLY! — Jamie

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

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 Memory 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

ike Earley, ’78, brings a lifetime of leadership experience to his new role as chair of the Ball State Alumni Council. The Council serves as the governing body of the Alumni Association and as a representative voice of the University’s 201,000 alumni. Looking back at his Ball State experience, Earley says his involvement in organizations and leadership positions “was by far the best part of my education.” An Accounting and Management major, he went on to serve as a senior executive at several enterprises and is now owner of Earley Group LLC. He recently sat down to discuss the many opportunities Ball State offers to all alumni, both near and far. How did the pandemic affect alumni activities these past months?

The pandemic was unfortunate and kept people away from each other, but what it did do is show us that you can engage alumni in other ways. It may not always be the preferred way, but you can do it. With creativity and extra planning, the Alumni Association was able to host more than 200 virtual experiences. What are the Alumni Council’s priorities right now?

The No. 1 goal is to increase engagement of our alumni base worldwide. Staff is working to develop a comprehensive communication and digital engagement strategy which will aid in this effort. We will be working with the colleges to partner with them in promoting career, professional development, and mentoring opportunities. Engaging alumni worldwide in activities such as Cardinals Connect, where you can help connect collegiate members with potential mentoring opportunities, is a great way for alumni to give back. What would you tell alumni who aren’t sure if or how to stay connected?

The alumni base is a great networking opportunity. Regardless of what type of work you are in, it is always helpful to be able to reach out to somebody that you have some type of relationship with. For instance, what better way for a small businessperson to reach new customers than to tap into the Ball State network? If you were a teacher looking for a job, chances are that the reputation of the Teachers College means something, and there is probably administration in that school that are BSU alumni. Keeping involved also opens opportunities for alumni to give back. Obviously, the University can always use your financial help, but the important thing is not how much you give but just that you participate with your fellow Cardinals, finding ways to give of your time, talent, and resources. Being willing to act as a mentor for college students is incredibly helpful. Can you get involved with your local high school to promote Ball State? There are many opportunities to match your availability and interests.

“The alumni base is a great networking opportunity. Regardless of what type of work you are in, it is always helpful to be able to reach out to somebody that you have some type of relationship with.” — Mike Earley, ’78 Learn more about the Alumni Association at

What motivates you to stay involved?

I had an incredible Ball State experience, with lasting friendships. Staying engaged in the University has given me great opportunities to remain connected with friends from college, but also to meet many new people from different generations.

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Class Notes

Class Notes

Dedicated to Making a Difference W

ith more than 201,000 graduates worldwide, many Ball State alumni have dedicated their time and talents to create a diverse and lively alumni community. As a tribute to the alumni who have helped build this community, the Ball State Alumni Association presented its annual Alumni Awards to recognize their dedication to the University and beyond. The 2020 awards were presented in a virtual ceremony that was part of this Spring’s special Homecoming. Here are some highlights.

A full list of award winners can be found at foundation/2020Awards

Distinguished Alumni Award

Alumni Achievement Award

Honorary Alumni Award

The highest award bestowed on an alumnus by the Alumni Association. The award salutes both a commitment to Ball State and the achievements of alumni whose personal lives, professional achievements, and community service exemplify the objectives of their alma mater.

Recognizes the expanding achievements or leadership of alumni whether professional or civic. This award honors alumni whose achievements have brought distinction to themselves as well as recognition to Ball State.

Presented to honor individuals who are not graduates of the University but who have made significant contributions towards its welfare, reputation, or prestige.

Photo by Bobby Ellis

Artist Celebrates Football, Muncie K Robert “Bob” Hunt, ’69

Sarah Hempstead, ’98

Jeff Smulyan

Chairman Emeritus Hunt Construction Group

CEO & Principal, Schmidt Associates Indianapolis

CEO, Emmis Communications Indianapolis

Robert “Bob” G. Hunt is chairman emeritus of Hunt Construction Group, now known as AECOM Hunt, one of the nation’s largest builders of sports facilities and convention centers.

Sarah Hempstead graduated cum laude with degrees from the Honors College and the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (CAP).

As board chairman for Indianapolis-based Emmis Communication Corp., Jeff Smulyan leads the company’s transition from slower-growth, traditional media assets to new businesses.

Committed to community service, Hunt is well regarded as a national civic and business leader and has frequently shared his expertise at Ball State in classes, online forums, and other student projects. In 2016, the University dedicated the Robert G. Hunt Center for Construction Management. He received an Honorary Doctorate Degree and was Commencement Speaker in 2018. Hunt has also received the Miller College of Business Award of Distinction and served on the college’s Entrepreneurship Advisory Board.

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Under her leadership, Schmidt Associates became the fourth largest architecture firm in Indianapolis and is ranked among the Midwest’s top design firms. Hempstead has received numerous honors in her career. Her work at Schmidt Associates merges with her love for Ball State—including the design of five campus residence halls. Active with CAP’s Alumni Engagement Committee and advisory board, she helped in development of the new Center for Civic Design and assisted CAP students on the Tumaini Innovation Center Master Plan in Kenya.

He has also served as director of the National Association of Broadcasters and chaired the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. An inductee into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, he also received the broadcasting excellence award from the Broadcasters Foundation of America. As a U.S. ambassador, he helped negotiate a landmark agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Smulyan served on Ball State’s Board of Trustees from 1996-2003. He lives with his family in Indianapolis.

ori Bethea, ’18, is a world history teacher by day, and an up-and-coming artist by night. Last Fall, the University tapped her growing abilities in digital art to capture the Cardinal football team, which on New Year’s Eve won the University’s first-ever bowl game. (Read more on p. 22.) “When I got the first message from Ball State, I was a little excited and nervous,” Bethea said. “Not everyone wants an artist to really truly collaborate, but I saw Ball State followed me and still liked my work. That was a big deal for me.” Bethea grew up in Indianapolis and returned there to teach at Ben Davis High School after graduating from Ball State as a social studies education major. While passionate about teaching, she’s also maintained a lifelong interest in making art. Once her high school went remote this past year, she found herself with more time to hone those skills, including learning how to make digital portraits. For the digital design Bethea created for Ball State football, she sifted through hundreds of pictures of the players to find the best ones to use on the poster. “I layered them to plan it out and drew them all individually.”

The poster also pays homage to Muncie. In addition to library research, “I talked to locals and asked them what they thought should be included. I wanted to include things people would recognize about Muncie. Those are the pictures I used for the background,” featuring the West Fork White River Bridge, the Civic Theatre, and other landmarks. “This is a new thing for me. I think it came together pretty well and was well-received. It feels a little closer to home for a lot of people.” This collaboration with Ball State may lead to more projects and open doors to conversations with other alumni and local artists, she said. — Ball State Athletics

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Class Notes

Class Notes

Cardinal Pride Creative Force The Flatland, a growing Indianapolis advertising agency with Ball State alumni leadership, made a clean sweep at the 2021 Indianapolis Addy Awards. The agency won Best of Show and eight golds for its work for client Milto Cleaners, as well as Judges’ Choice Awards for its work on behalf of clients Delta Faucet and Triton Brewing Company. Shown with their Addy Awards are (L-R) Ben Seal, ’97, principal; Jeff Morris, ’89, executive creative director; and Erin (Ogle) Haskett, ’97, VP of Client Services.

Ball State University BallState ballstateuniversity officialballstate ballstateuniversity ourballstate

Tina K. Pierce, ’87


Y. Michelle “Shelly” Wilson-Merriwether, ’92, Chesterfield, MI, was the first person of color voted in as commissioner of Parks and Recreation for Chesterfield Township, MI, in December 2020. She also is the first person of color, elected or appointed, to an office in the township. Mario Garcia, ’95, became the first judge of Hispanic heritage to serve the Southern District of Indiana. The new judgeship was created by the Judicial Conference of the United States. A registered civil mediator, Garcia has appeared in more than 500 hearings in federal and state courts over the past five years. As a member of the Southern District’s Criminal Justice Act panel, he has represented indigent clients, and has provided pro bono services for a court program that helps individuals re-enter society after incarceration. He was a criminal justice major at Ball State.


Jim Andrew, ’71, was presented the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Pursuing an entrepreneurial career in the building supply industry, he bought Henry Poor Lumber and, through all economic cycles, has grown the business and implemented best-of-class management controls and processes. His service to Ball State includes having served as president of the Alumni Council.

David Cook, ’72, was appointed Indiana Inspector General by Gov. Eric J. Holcomb. Previously, he headed the state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. A business major at Ball State, Cook was chief public defender and judge in Marion County. His goal has always been to “try and improve the product that’s coming out of whatever agency I have a leadership position in.” Cook relishes time with his wife, Chris, and their family, but has no plans to retire. “As long as I can contribute, I’d just as soon be involved and active and accept a new challenge.”


Summer 2021

Y. Michelle “Shelly” Wilson-Merriwether, ’92

Mario Garcia, ’95

Chris Hermon, ’95—an Air Force veteran and group RV manager for Heartland, Jayco, KZ and Thor in the Elkhart, IN, area—encourages Ball State alums to consider working in the RV industry where opportunities abound. Erin Theis, ’98, Indianapolis, has been named media director by Borshoff, an award-winning creative and PR agency. Her 23 years in the advertising field includes 15 years as a media director. She specializes in a comprehensive approach of traditional and digital advertising strategy, planning, and buying. Lisa Wills Swedarsky, ’98, Indianapolis, was awarded The Black Excellence Award for her work as a teacher at Victory College Prep. Much of her career has centered on at-risk, inner-city youth. She has taught elementary school, coached basketball in Atlanta, and led a mentorship program at a juvenile detention center.


Otis D. Alexander, MLS ’83, is the author of Second Coming or Second Trade-off: Contemporary & Relevant Literature During the Pandemic, recently released by Mansa Books. Alexander has directed and managed academic and public libraries in the United States and throughout the world. His research has appeared in Scribner’s Encyclopedia of American Lives, African American National Biography, Public Library Quarterly, and other publications. Pete Fritz, ’83, was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He joins an elite group of longtime AICP members recognized for “excellence in professional practice, teaching and mentoring, research, and community service and leadership.” Fritz is the healthy communities planner with the Indiana Department of Health, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, and has more than 35 years of experience in planning and designing active transportation networks. Tina K. Pierce, ’87, was inducted into the Miller College of Business Hall of Fame. She is vice president and CFO for Honeywell Performance Materials & Technologies and lives in Atlanta. Majoring in finance at Ball State, she established the Pierce Scholarship Fund to provide assistance to students receiving course credit in study-abroad or domestic travel opportunities.

One Statement Inspires a Lifetime of Giving A gift of real estate helps the Dr. Joe and Alice Rinard Orchid Greenhouse continue to flourish for both the Ball State and Muncie communities.

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

“The Rinard Orchid Greenhouse allows me to look beyond myself. I’m doing something worthwhile beyond my own situation, and it’s something that other people can also be part of.” Alice, ’54 MA ’63, and Dr. Joe Rinard

Class Notes

Class Notes  As president of the nation’s largest non-profit provider of college scholarships to Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs), Noël Harmon, MA ’01, is unlocking educational opportunities for America’s fastest-growing racial group. Based in Washington, D.C., APIA Scholars provides opportunities and resources for students to succeed after post-secondary education so they may develop into leaders who excel in their careers and communities. Harmon is a graduate of Ball State’s Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education master’s program.

Ashley Parker, ’05, Indianapolis, senior property manager for Buckingham Companies, was selected as a member of the inaugural class of the Mutz Philanthropic Leadership Institute. Launched by Indiana Philanthropy Alliance in 2021, the Mutz Institute provides leadership training to professionals serving in board and executive roles at foundations, corporations, and social impact organizations across Indiana. Nichlas Emmons, ’06 MA ’07 EdD ’20, St. Paul, MN, served as a co-creative director and co-producer of the educational video game, When Rivers Were Trails, launched in Spring 2019. Following a displaced Ojibwe person, the game explores the history of federal land allotment and indigenous peoples, while exposing players to indigenous cultures, languages, and social issues. Jason Guinn, ’07, has written a third fiction book, The Wretched: Lucifer Chronicles, Book 1, available on Amazon in Kindle edition. The book pulls from his love of 1980s horror films, action/adventure, and what he describes as his own “morbid sense of humor.” Adam Weesner, ’03

U.S. Air Force Captain Doyle McIntosh, ’08, completed training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas to fly the A-10 Thunderbolt II as an active-duty fighter pilot. After completing officer training school, he spent seven years as a weapon systems officer.

2010s 2000s

Nina Johnson-Pitt, ’03, Paragon, IN, former central region director for Little League International, has been promoted to senior strategy executive engaged in restructuring the League’s international operations department. She joined Little League as central region assistant director in 2006 and was named region director in 2011. She serves as a volunteer coach for the Little League program in Zionsville, IN. Matt Sparling, ’03 BAR ’05, Fort Wayne, IN, was selected for Building Design+Construction’s 40 Under 40 Award. As a principal for MKM architecture + design, Sparling has played an essential role in the firm’s designation as one of the top healthcare architectural firms in the country by Modern Healthcare Magazine for 14 consecutive years.

Seth E. Davis, MA ’11, Cordova, TN, received a 2021 Conference on College Composition and Communication Lavender Rhetorics Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship for his work, Shade: Literacy Narratives at Black Pride, published in Volume 7, Issue 2 of Literacy in Composition Studies. CCCC awards are bestowed annually in association within the National Council of Teachers of English.

Adam Weesner, ’03, Fort Wayne, IN, has been promoted to director of architecture and partner for Barton‐Coe‐Vilamaa Architects & Engineers. As a registered architect and valued employee since 2013, Weesner brings a wealth of architectural design knowledge to the firm’s K‐12 education clients. Malina Jeffers, ’04, Indianapolis, has co-founded the cultural development firm GANGGANG. With initial investments from the Central Indiana Community Foundation and other philanthropies, GANGGANG seeks to promote and invest in culture entrepreneurs, with a strong commitment toward racial equity. Jeffers’ background includes serving as Love Indy’s project manager for Plan 2020, Indianapolis’ bicentennial planning agenda, and director of marketing at the Madame Walker Legacy Center.

Seth Johnson, ’13, Indianapolis, founded Together Estranged, a nonprofit that supports people estranged from family members and works to destigmatize estrangement. The organization started with a monthly podcast club and opportunities to attend meaningful discussions on estrangement.

Ashley Parker, ’05

TCOM grad Alicia Herder, ’14, co-produced a film selected for premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, widely recognized as the largest and most prestigious independent film festival in America. The film she co-produced with her boyfriend, Marcel Perez, in 2018, La Leyenda Negra, has been screened and honored several times after its Sundance world premiere. It can be watched on the HBO Latino channel and streamed on HBOMax. Brandon Townsend, ’18, recently produced and directed an Indiana-based, independent film, Smokestack. Released online in September 2020, the film garnered more than 22,000 views, causing it to be included as an Amazon Prime Video and selected for Lift-Off Global Network’s First Time Filmmaker Sessions. Townsend attributes the film’s success to his having studied video production at Ball State.

She Wins a Grammy and an Oscar! When singer-songwriter Tiara Thomas, ’12, was a Ball State student, she said she wanted her music to matter, and she wanted to win a Grammy. She did just that—and then took home an Oscar just weeks later. Seth E. Davis, MA ’11

Thomas won the Grammy for Song of the Year in April for “I Can’t Breathe,” a collaboration with singer-songwriter H.E.R. Another song co-written with H.E.R.—“Fight for You,” from Judas and the Black Messiah—won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Thomas told Ball State’s online magazine in April, “I was in disbelief that I was even at the Grammys. And, just thinking about all the stuff I went through in my life. I went through some pretty tough times that left me wondering if I was ever going to accomplish my dream. And here I am, accomplishing my dream in the most unlikely way.” She plans to continue working with H.E.R., but said she’s “ready to get back to doing more of my artist things, like touring. But that probably won’t happen until sometime next year.”

Tiara Thomas, ’12

As a Ball State Telecommunications major, Thomas said, “I loved the human connections I made, our shared experiences on campus, that sense of community. Also, I appreciate the independence, self-reliance, and confidence I gained there.”

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


Class Notes

Class Notes

A Passion for Construction Named CEO of a construction firm at age 33, Adam Owens credits Ball State for his achievements.


A Hero and True Cardinal


his Spring, the nation mourned the death of Eric Talley, ’01 MS ’04, age 51. He was the first police officer to respond to a mass shooting March 22 at a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store that left him and nine others dead. His bravery and quick actions saved dozens of lives. The sad news hit close to home at Ball State, where Talley earned two degrees from the Center for Information and Communication Sciences and then worked in the University’s Information Technology Department until 2010. Professor Frank Groom said, “We in CICS are shocked” by the news. He remembered Talley as a leader and role model who exemplified what it means to be a Cardinal. Board of Trustees Chair Renae Conley, ’80 MBA ’82, called for a moment of silence for Talley after learning the news. “Quite simply, [he] embodies the values that we hold dear at Ball State University—those of excellence, those of integrity and courage, even when it calls for the ultimate sacrifice,” she said. President Geoffrey S. Mearns also noted how Talley represented University values such as service to others. “It was the character and commitment of Officer Talley that is so inspiring.” Talley left his IT career at age 41 to become a police officer in response to the death of a close friend in a DUI crash. A week after the shootings, hundreds lined the streets as Talley’s body was transported to a funeral home in Aurora. His patrol vehicle became a shrine as mourners left flowers, wreaths, cards, and other mementos in his honor. Talley is survived by his wife, Leah, and their seven children. Please visit magazine.bsu/edu to find “In Memoriam” notices of alumni deaths. The site also shares stories from past print issues, and unique online content.

64 Summer 2021

hen the board of directors for Zionsville-based RLTurner Corporation selected Adam Owens, ’09, as the company’s CEO in 2020, he was just 33 years old. Owens began work at RLTurner—a midsized general contractor, specializing in commercial construction—as an intern during the Summer before his senior year at Ball State. The company extended the internship and assigned him more responsibility, then offered him a full-time job after graduation. “I hired in and I never looked back,” Owens said. “It’s no surprise that Adam was successful,” said Jim Jones, who chairs the Department of Construction Management and Interior Design. “You could tell he would be able to take the pressure of the industry while still making thoughtful decisions.” As a Construction Management major in the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (CAP), Owens learned to lead multi-million dollar building projects from concept to completion, on time and within budget. CAP launched the major in 2005. Now with some 250 undergraduate majors, it is one of just four accredited programs in Indiana.

‘I built that’ Construction management wasn’t Owens’ first choice. With childhood dreams of designing buildings, he applied for admission into CAP’s architecture program four semesters in a row. “It’s competitive,” he said. “I just didn’t have a portfolio. To be honest, I didn’t make a big impression.” When Owens found construction management, he said the program just felt natural for him. “Not to sound cheesy, it was love at first sight.” Since 2014, Construction Management majors have experienced a 100-percent placement rate. Those alumni have gone on to oversee the construction of homes, apartment complexes, hospitals, airports, highways, and more, Jones said. Owens now serves on the advisory board for the program, helping it develop curriculums that prepares students with the skills that employers need. Owens’ love for the construction field continues to grow with each passing year. “Whenever I drive by one of our buildings, I’m sure my wife gets tired of hearing me say, ‘Hey, we built that.’” — Nick Werner, ’03

Photos by Samantha Blankenship

A Vibrant Sign of Good Things to Come Learn more about Commencement and watch recordings of this year’s ceremonies at commencement

University Commencement ceremonies, held May 7-8, honored almost 2,500 Class of 2021 graduates. To maintain health protocols, five distinct ceremonies took place in Scheumann Stadium, where a double rainbow marked the occasion. A week later, more than 900 graduates of the Class of 2020 were welcomed back for their ceremonies, which were originally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. President Geoffrey S. Mearns lauded the graduates for overcoming the challenges of the past year “with grit and with grace. You now have the opportunity to apply the skills that you have acquired, the strength that you have gained, and the character that you have demonstrated.”

Ball State University Alumni Magazine | WE FLY


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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.

“Fly Your Way Back Home” HOMECOMING • OCTOBER 18–23, 2021

WEEKEND ACTIVITIES Friday, October 22 Alumni and Friends Golf Outing Bed Race Saturday, October 23 Chase Charlie 5K Homecoming Parade and Alumni Viewing Party CharlieTown Tailgate Ball State vs. Miami

All events, and the specific nature of their presentation, are subject to change, based on the most current public health and safety guidelines.