Alumni Magazine-Spring 2024

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2000 W. University Ave. Muncie, IN 47306 ELECTRONIC SERVICE REQUESTED The information presented here, correct at the time of publication, is subject to change. Ball State University practices equal opportunity in education and employment and is strongly and actively committed to diversity within its community. SPECIAL EDITION BALL STATE ALUMNI SPRING 2024 #ONEBALLSTATE Join us virtually April 3, 2024, for a day dedicated to serving our Cardinals and community! Answer Our Call to Beneficence this April 3, 2024
Blankenship, ’15
Photo by Samantha


4 New Performing Arts Center Plans, Funding Advance

6 Ball State Initiates Pilot Program to Cultivate a Culture of Philanthropy

8 Philanthropy Education Council Establishes Appreciation of Giving Among Students

10 One Ball State Day Sparks Lifelong Giving

11 Not a Moment—a Movement


14 Community-Minded

Businessman and philanthropist Charles W. Brown, ’71, and his wife, Dr. Louise Tetrick, remain focused on enriching the lives of the







within each academic college,

Ball State University Alumni magazine is published twice yearly.

University Marketing and Communications Muncie, Indiana 47306 765-285-1560

Printed by EP Graphics, Berne, Ind. Printer uses ink with soy oil, and all wastepaper and solvents are recycled.

Greg Fallon, ’04 Editor; Associate Vice President of University Communications and Digital Strategy

Elizabeth Brooks, ’95

Art and Production Director; Senior Graphic Designer

President’s Cabinet

Charlene Alexander Chief Strategy Officer

Jean Kramer Crosby, ’96 President of Ball State Foundation and Alumni Association, Vice President for University Advancement

Deedie Dowdle

Vice President for Marketing and Communications

Ro-Anne Royer Engle

Vice President for Student Affairs

Sali Falling, MA ’88

Vice President and General Counsel

Alan Finn

Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer

Paula Luff

Vice President for Enrollment Planning and Management

Loren Malm, ’86

Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer

Anand Marri

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Jeff Mitchell

Director of Athletics

Becca Polcz Rice

Vice President for Governmental Relations and Industry Engagement

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Answering Our Call to Beneficence

Dear Alumni and Friends:

With the public launch of our comprehensive fundraising campaign, Our Call to Beneficence, Ball State University will continue transforming the lives of people for many years to come. In this special edition of the magazine, you will learn more about how philanthropy is the catalyst that allows us to achieve this worthy mission. Our University traces its origin to philanthropy—the generous, founding gift of the five Ball brothers and their families. And for more than 100 years, the members of the extended Ball family have maintained a philanthropic partnership with our University that makes for a distinct story in higher education (page 22).

Our name for this ambitious campaign— Our Call to Beneficence—honors both the iconic symbol of our University and the enduring values that distinguish Ball State. Among those values is gratitude, which we define as our commitment to expressing our appreciation and to demonstrating our appreciation through our actions.

In that spirit, I am grateful for the many contributions and commitments we have already received from so many people—graduates, families, friends, fans, and philanthropic organizations.

Each of these generous benefactors has a story. In the pages of this issue, you will discover some of those stories, from firstgeneration students who became donors (page 18) to a successful graduate whose gifts have significantly added to the beauty of our campus (page 14).

You will also learn about some of the ways in which the $350 million we aspire to raise during this campaign will empower our students (page 32), support our faculty and staff (pages 38-57), and enrich our community (page 4).

As you come to the final pages of this issue, I ask you to reflect on the transformative impact that our University has had on you and on your life—and on your family. Please reflect on the extraordinary impact that your generous philanthropy can have on the lives of our students and their families. Please reflect on how that impact will endure for many generations to come.

Please answer Our Call to Beneficence.


Geoffrey S. Mearns

President, Ball State University


WE FLY / Spring 2024 1
Park Hall; photo by Lucinda Stipp, ’16
Ball State and greater Muncie communities
First-Generation Alumni Know What Support Means
State alumni who were the first in their family to earn a college degree share why they feel compelled to give back
A Legacy Rooted in Philanthropy Four descendants of the Ball brothers share their memories of the University their family has graciously supported for more than 100 years
Cardinals in Spirit
not attending the University, Dan and Sabrina Starck are passionate Ball State supporters
Supporting Students
support is embedded in all the programs, initiatives, and over-arching goals of the Our Call to Beneficence campaign
Fostering Student Success
support initiatives give students a boost during difficult times
Campus Collaboration
centers, established
centralize essential student resources OUR CALL TO BENEFICENCE 38 College of Communication, Information, and Media 40 College of Fine Arts 42 College of Health 44 College of Sciences and Humanities 46 R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning 48 Miller College of Business 50 Teachers College 52 Honors College 54 Athletics CLASS NOTES 59 Cardinal Pride
new student success


Comprehensive campaigns: understanding the history, and the need to answer the call

“This campaign is about envisioning the extraordinary impact that philanthropy can have on the lives of our students, our neighbors, and our friends for generations to come.”

— Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns (pictured above)

For as long as universities have existed, the fundamental need for philanthropic support has, too. Day in and day out—and, in some cases, with annual events such as One Ball State Day—raising funds to support an institutional mission and strategic plan is not only the norm—it’s necessary.

A variety of revenue sources make up the overall financial landscape at a public university. State appropriations, plus student tuition and fees, are certainly part of that. Still, private gifts, grants, and corporate and foundation partnerships also play significant roles in the sustainability and success of state institutions.

Ball State University is no different.

On Oct. 20, 2023, Ball State officially entered the public phase of Our Call to Beneficence:

The Campaign for Ball State University

During that announcement, Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns revealed the University’s ambitious goal to raise more than $350 million by June 30, 2027. Thanks to the University’s expanding network of supporters, $280 million has already been secured.

“This campaign is about envisioning the extraordinary impact that philanthropy can have on the lives of our students, our neighbors, and our friends for generations to come,” President Mearns said.

Our Call to Beneficence is a comprehensive campaign, just the fourth in the history of the University. The campaign officially began on July 1, 2017, with a leadership phase.

The last comprehensive campaign at Ball State was Ball State BOLD: Investing in

the Future—a seven-year endeavor that concluded in June of 2011 and resulted in $210 million raised, $10 million more than its original goal.

The word “comprehensive” is important. It defines the basic reality that all gifts and grants secured during the campaign count toward the goal. But the word also represents the reality that the funds raised will comprehensively support all areas of the University. Every college and many other divisions at Ball State have outlined specific priorities for the funds raised during Our Call to Beneficence. Many of those initiatives are highlighted in this edition of the Alumni Magazine, and all are available for review at

But broadly, to frame the comprehensive effort another way, Our Call to Beneficence is a launching pad for Ball State to take giant steps to achieve more and do more; to energize the University’s commitments to lift individuals, families, and entire communities.

During any campaign, but certainly during just the fourth comprehensive campaign in Ball State’s history, the University rallies constituents around a shared vision focused on essential functions and innovative projects instead of only on infrastructure, which is typically the case in capital campaigns.

Ball State has established three primary pillars of support for Our Call to Beneficence: ensuring student opportunity and success; enriching the academic experience; and expanding campus and community impact.

“The pillars focus on people, programs, and places and are designed to help donors identify priorities that align with their philanthropic interest,” said Mark Helmus, Ball State University Foundation’s chief advancement officer. “The first, and largest, provides resources so students can attend, excel, and graduate. The second supports innovation in the classroom and helps attract and retain the best faculty and staff. The third centers on high-quality facilities and campus beautification for our students, alumni, friends, and community.”

This campaign is aptly named.

Beneficence is the iconic statue located on campus that embodies the University’s longstanding enduring values: Excellence, Innovation, Courage, Integrity, Inclusiveness, Social Responsibility, and Gratitude. The last of those, Gratitude, is the value that, at Ball State, is defined as a collective commitment to expressing appreciation to others and demonstrating gratitude through actions.

“Beneficence is all about paying it forward and making sure that we make a contribution

because we have been so fortunate to have had a strong and inspiring educational experience,” said Dr. Jo Ann Gora, former Ball State president and member of Our Call to Beneficence’s Executive Campaign Council.

Dr. Gora serves on the executive campaign council with Patrick Alderdice, ’92; Charlie Brown, ’71; Tom Bryan, ’77; Dave Heeter, ’83; Dan Molinaro, ’68; Larry Roan, ’77; Tony Smith, ’68; Joan SerVaas; and current Ball State Board of Trustees members Renae Conley, ’80 MBA ’82, and William “Craig” Dobbs, ’86. Randy Pond, ’77, is the executive campaign council chair.

“The education I received continues to inspire my passion and commitment to Ball State,” Mr. Pond said. “I believe Our Call to Beneficence: The Campaign for Ball State University will create a campus culture of philanthropy, uphold Ball State as a top-ranked academic leader in the Midwest, and better prepare the students of today and tomorrow.”



Wings of the Future

July 1987–Oct. 1992

Goal: $40M

Raised: $44M

Ball State Bold: Investing in the Future

July 2004–June 2011

Goal: $200M

Raised: $210M

Above and Beyond

Jan. 1997–July 2002

Goal: $90M

Raised: $112.9M

Our Call to Beneficence: The Campaign for Ball State University

July 2017–June 2027

Goal: $350M

Raised: Total TBD, but $280M so far

2 Ball State University Alumni Magazine WE FLY / Spring 2024 3
Photo by Samantha Blankenship, ’15

A Catalyst of Place

New Performing Arts Center plans, funding advance

The pillars of the Our Call to Beneficence campaign broadly focus on three things: people, programs, and places. Regarding focus on place, The Village—the commercial district immediately adjacent to campus—is at the top of the list.

Support from the campaign will play a significant role in Ball State’s overall revitalization of The Village, an effort beginning to hit its stride in the planning and fundraising stages.

The University is working to create a best-in-class, multigenerational district driven by arts and culture, entertainment, and innovation with a new select-service hotel, new dining, retail, service, living, and gathering options. The catalyst of the entire project is a new Performing Arts Center (PAC)— a two-story structure on the corner of University and McKinley Avenues.

The PAC will be funded with philanthropic support. In December 2022, Ball State announced a $5 million gift from Marianne Glick and her husband, Mike Woods, for the Center.

“Reimagining The Village as an arts-themed destination for the region will coalesce the existing arts amenities at Ball State around this new Performing Arts Center and will activate other significant commercial and residential development that are much needed in this community,” said Ms. Glick, a former Ball State University Board of Trustees member of 10 years. “The Village will once again be a regional destination—one that will play a critical role in the community’s efforts to attract and retain talent and improve the quality of place in Muncie.”

In December, Ball State received a major grant for the Performing Arts Center—the single largest gift in the history of the University—from Lilly Endowment Inc. Ball State was awarded $35 million for its Village


expected economic impact as a result of adding Performing Arts Center and Tapestry by Hilton hotel to The Village:

• $30-40 million added assessed valuation from private development projects

• More than $30,000 in annual Food and Beverage Tax due to hotel

• More than $200,000 in annual Innkeeper’s Tax due to hotel

• More than $32,000 in annual Local Income Tax due to hotel

• Tapestry by Hilton will employ 65-75 individuals with annual payroll of $2 million

• Estimated 36,000 annual patrons at PAC performances, resulting in estimated $250,000 additional food and beverage spending in The Village annually

• Estimated $8-10 million in annual spending in Muncie community by hotel guests

Sources: Schahet Hotels, American Hotel and Lodging Association, Ball State University Department of Theatre and Dance, IMPLAN economic modeling

Revitalization plan through the College and Community Collaboration initiative—an allocation of up to $300 million by the Endowment to be awarded to Indiana colleges and universities undertaking collaborative projects with community stakeholders that enhance the quality of life and place in their surrounding communities.

“I am grateful to the Lilly Endowment,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “The Lilly Endowment’s extraordinary philanthropic investment and the other gifts that we have received for the Performing Arts Center demonstrate great confidence in our vision for The Village.

“Our benefactors want to see our talented students in the Department of Theatre and Dance perform in a beautiful, modern venue,” President Mearns said. “Our students will certainly benefit from this new facility—and so will our community, because the Performing Arts Center will catalyze the revitalization of The Village, thereby enhancing quality of place and stimulating economic growth in Muncie and in East Central Indiana.”

In late January, the University’s Board of Trustees approved five important contracts to advance The Village revitalization plan. In addition to a 75-year ground lease with Indianapolisbased Schahet Hotels and two purchase agreements for seven properties located on two Village sites, the Board also authorized two Build Operate Transfer agreements to advance the design and construction of the PAC and Center for Innovation.

The Center for Innovation will include a prototyping lab and an expansion of the Emerging Media Development and Design

program. The facility also will house Lifetime Learning, career professional development, and more. The Center will be a three-story structure at the corner of Ashland Avenue and Martin Street, just south of the new Alderdice Gates.

“As we advance in the execution of the revitalization plan for The Village, there are many opportunities for donors to participate in many philanthropic ways,” said Mark Helmus, the Ball State University Foundation’s chief advancement officer. “I think that is what makes this work so fulfilling. The Village is a special place to everyone in the Ball State community. Now there is a way to make a lasting impact for future generations of Cardinals, so they can share in the fondness The Village creates for everyone, including our community.”

At the meeting in January, the Board of Trustees received updates on the 95-room Tapestry by Hilton hotel, which will connect to the Performing Arts Center. In addition to a 1,200square-foot lobby, 1,110 square feet of meeting spaces, and a large fitness room, the hotel will feature a 4,300-square-foot ground-floor bar and restaurant with outdoor seating and a similarly-sized rooftop bar and lounge with a covered outdoor terrace.

The Board also received updates on the concepts for the mixed-use project to be constructed on the southeast corner of McKinley and University Avenues and the residential neighborhood that is planned east of The Village in the Riverside-Normal neighborhood. — Greg Fallon, ’04

NEWS WE FLY / Spring 2024 5 4 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Renderings of the Performing Arts Center (seen here on the corner of University and McKinley Avenues) and Tapestry by Hilton hotel (lower left) show the beauty and modern appeal of what’s to come in The Village. A look at
Renderings by Ratio Architects


Ball State initiates pilot program to cultivate a culture of philanthropy

The idea is simple, but carries with it significant value for many students, faculty, and alumni.

How can Ball State University use a donor-funded campaign as a teaching tool, thereby further extending the art of philanthropy into the classroom?

That’s the mission of a pilot student philanthropy program established within Ball State’s Honors College in the Fall of 2023. The program—inspired by a similar offering at Northern Kentucky University, where Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns formerly served as president—is being led by Dr. Tim Berg, teaching professor of honors humanities, and is just beginning to take shape.

To make this project possible, the Ball State University Foundation turned to three alumni for financial assistance: Kelli Lawrence, ’01, Donna Oklak, ’77, and Michelle (Asby) Ryan, ’81—all of whom have served on its Board of Directors.

For Ms. Lawrence, “the idea of being a philanthropist or being involved in philanthropy was not something I knew much about until later in life.”

Chosen to lead the pilot student philanthropy program at Ball State University, Dr. Tim Berg serves as a teaching professor of honors humanities. Dr. Berg previously taught at Michigan State University and Western Michigan University after earning his Ph.D. in History from Purdue University.

Therefore, she believes the new philanthropy program serves as a valuable tool for students who otherwise might not have been exposed.

“The idea of talking to students about what philanthropy means, how you can start having an impact very early in your life, and what that looks like, is really exciting to me,” Ms. Lawrence said.

“I think philanthropy is a learned behavior,” Ms. Oklak added. “I don’t think it comes naturally. To make good philanthropic decisions is not the easiest thing to do. So, anywhere that we can facilitate that in a classroom and get to know non-profit leaders, I think it creates better philanthropic decision-makers, and ultimately, graduates of Ball State will think of themselves as philanthropists.”

In the first semester of the pilot, 50 students had the experience of utilizing a $2,500 fund in a Contemporary American Civilization class.

“We were looking at ‘socially engaged art,’ and we were trying to figure out what that is, how it works in the community, and how we can express some of those values or share some of those values and ideas with the local community in some way,” Dr. Berg said.

The result of the first-semester project? A festival in which students donated to groups that they felt were aligned with Ball State’s enduring values.

Now, through a cohort of nine faculty members serving as ambassadors, the student philanthropy concept has spread throughout the University in various ways.

The pilot has also been designed to cater to all Ball State students, irrespective of their financial standing.

“A lot of Ball State students are firstgeneration college students who may not have been exposed to the idea of philanthropy,” Ms. Lawrence said. “To help people think of themselves as philanthropists and have an impact at an early age is really powerful.”

Dr. Gabriel Tait, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication, integrated the program into one of his classes, using the Fall semester to partner with Grissom Elementary School, which features one of the more racially and economically diverse student populations within the Muncie Community Schools district.

“They handed out books to the students about female African American hairstyles,” said Dr. Jim Buss, dean of the Honors College. “The students worked with the school district, brought in the author of the books, and did workshops with elementary school students.

“When I spoke to our students, I tried to remind them that part of what the program is

meant to do is not necessarily to teach students how to give money away, but how to take their time, their talent, and their treasure to work with local community partners and nonprofits to advance a cause of some sort.”

These early returns serve as an emblem of what this kind of high-impact practice can offer to Ball State students. After being successfully launched, thanks to the generosity of three Ball State graduates, Dr. Berg said the University is working to secure further funding to extend the project’s reach through Ball State’s campaign, Our Call to Beneficence

“Our goal is to make student philanthropy a regular activity at Ball State University, so that all students can expect to participate in such projects during their time here,” he said.

The program is currently collecting research data from its first semester, and it is expected to have a significant impact that will last for many years.

“It can take 10 or 20 years to see the full impact of this,” Ms. Oklak said. “But we’re going forward, and that’s the important thing.”

NEWS 6 Ball State University Alumni Magazine NEWS
iStock credit:
WE FLY / Spring 2024 7
Ball State student Chelsea Murdock (above) hands out copies of “Curly Hair Adventures” to Grissom Elementary students in Muncie. The book, which teaches students about African American hairstyles, was distributed through one of Dr. Gabriel Tait’s classes. It is an example of the ways in which Ball State students cultivate a culture of philanthropy through classwork. Photo courtesy of Dr. Gabriel B. Tait

Learning to Answer the Call

Philanthropy Education Council establishes appreciation of giving among students

Callahan Lacy remembers being introduced to philanthropy at a young age. Along with his two older sisters, Mr. Lacy was part of a program that started when he was in first grade and carried through his high school graduation.

“I would meet with the same group twice a year, and we’d learn about various topics related to the world of philanthropy and money,” he said. “It was nice to learn these skills at a young age, and I continue to apply them in my life today.”

Mr. Lacy joined Ball State University’s Philanthropy Education Council (PEC) in 2023 to continue his philanthropic journey. The PEC is the Ball State University Foundation’s official

primarily on engaging with one specific group: current Ball State students.

“PEC started as a way to engage students who are active on campus in philanthropy— specifically when it comes to One Ball State Day, which is obviously our biggest day of giving at the University,” said PEC President Payten Romig. “Our focus has been to engage the student body a bit more, and we’ve seen a lot of success when it comes to student giving in the past couple years.”

Through months of planning, PEC has produced several new on-campus engagement initiatives, such as Cardinal Cab, where the group takes over a campus shuttle bus for the day and plays trivia with Ball State Athletics coaches and high-ranking University administrators.

In addition, the group came up with “I Spy Charlie,” in which plush cardinals are planted in various locations across campus, encouraging the exploration of different areas of the University. When the cardinals are found, students can bring them back to the OBSD headquarters to receive a prize pack or decide which area they’d like to support with preexisting funds.

PEC’s efforts have worked, with nearly 250 gifts being made by students during last year’s OBSD.

And those gifts, no matter the amount, are felt throughout the different areas on campus.

“I’m a student in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and being in the arts, we rely

heavily on philanthropy,” said Ms. Romig, a senior progressing toward a degree in Theatre Production. “A lot of us come into a specific department already realizing the value of generosity and how far it goes.”

Through the PEC, the Ball State Foundation has helped create a culture of philanthropy on campus for students.

“I think it really shows that the Foundation has that commitment to engaging students and making them aware of giving, even something like $5,” said Conor Dailey, ’23, a graduate student studying Geology and Natural Resources. “But it’s more so that you can get engaged with Ball State and see how your impact’s being made.

“There’s more to do beyond just giving financially. You can give back your time or talents and help make that impact there as well. So, I think Ball State having the PEC really shows that commitment to engaging the student body and then, more broadly, the on-campus community.”

That kind of engagement also adds to the value of a college education.

“Every amount, every bit of time, talent, and treasure that anyone can give helps make an impact,” Mr. Dailey said. “It’s helping make attendance for others possible. It’s helping make special programming possible. It’s helping make everything that Ball State can do for us, the students, possible.” – Cody Voga

“PEC started as a way to engage students who are active on campus in philanthropy— specifically when it comes to One Ball State Day, which is obviously our biggest day of giving at the University.”
— PEC President Payten Romig

student group charged with student and campus engagement for the award-winning One Ball State Day (OBSD), the University’s annual 24-hour fundraising event.

“I applied last year and got in,” the junior Media Production major said of PEC. “I’ve loved every second of it.”

Ball State supporters have answered Our Call to Beneficence by gifting more than $1 million in each of the last two OBSD installments— including a record-setting $1.2 million-plus in 2023—to provide support and opportunities for students who attend Ball State.

Much of that success can be attributed to the PEC’s efforts, which have been focused

“It was nice to learn these skills at a young age, and I continue to apply them in my life today.”
— PEC member Callahan Lacy
NEWS NEWS WE FLY / Spring 2024 9 8 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Above: Members of the Philanthropy Education Council (PEC) and Senior Director of Campus and Regional Engagement Brittney Grim (right), ’13 MA ’18, meet to discuss, plan, and implement engagement initiatives for the upcoming One Ball State Day. Right: PEC members pose inside a nest during 2023 One Ball State Day. Photo by Samantha Blankenship, ’15

The Enduring Spirit of Beneficence

One Ball State Day sparks lifelong giving

What perhaps started as spirited competition among departments and student groups on One Ball State Day has evolved into a lasting commitment to giving. Fueled by the spirit of Beneficence across campus, many students who initially participated in the University’s annual day of giving continue their generosity after graduation. This culture of giving back is a testament to the enduring impact of community spirit instilled during their time at Ball State. Meet two young graduates who share a commitment to giving back to the University that means so much to them:

Jared Jacob, MA ’19, Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS)

“I started donating to the CICS program as a student on One Ball State Day because saw the difference alumni involvement could make and how much it

relies on this support. It was really important to me to not only make a difference in my cohort but for future cohorts, as well. Professors like Kirsten Smith, MS ’99, associate director of CICS, took me under her wing and ensured I succeeded. People like her and those strong connections you develop make all the difference in a successful student. It makes you want to give back. Whether it’s forgoing a couple of coffees or a meal out, these small sacrifices contribute to a larger difference. My wife and I sat down recently to talk about that. Now that we’re both in professional careers, we reflected on our goals, which include finding time and resources that we can share now that we are able to. No one knows the full story of someone or what they might be going through. Students could be struggling just to pay for books, but if we can do a little bit to help out—if a lot of us do just a little—it can make a huge impact.”

Sydney McSorley, ’18 MA ’20, Department of Social Work, Gymnastics

“I split my donations between the gymnastics program and Social Work. At first, donating to One Ball State Day was a big competition between all the sports, but then I was able to see the tangible impact of those funds. They were investing back into us as students for scholarships and other opportunities. I saw it going directly into Athletics teams and paying for overnight travel, uniforms, and equipment—opportunities that hadn’t been there before. It seemed like there were more and more opportunities for us. But the biggest reason I give back is because I loved my experience at Ball State. I know the professors are really investing so much time into their students. They are always looking for ways to give back, so I wanted to do the same. That’s why I’ve continued to give, even after graduation.” — Jennifer Criss, ’98 MA ’23

Not a Moment—a Movement

While the generosity of the Ball State community shines through every day, one stands out above the rest— One Ball State Day. This 24-hour blitz of giving—with contests, matching gifts, and even professors willing to take a pie to the face for the cause—is a celebration of Beneficence

Last year, One Ball State Day made history, pulling in a record-breaking $1.2 million from nearly 6,400 individual gifts. It was a powerful demonstration of the commitment of Ball State alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends to the University.

Gregory Graham, ’78, director of facilities planning, has given to the University each month for years but also gives a little extra for One Ball State Day and other special fundraising events.

“I give mostly to the College of Architecture and Planning, as my professors and the college helped me establish the foundation to pursue my career and love for architecture,” said Mr. Graham. “I think it’s appropriate to give back— especially if see a need or a cause that speaks to me.”

Coralee Young, ’82, former secretary to the dean of Honors College, said she shares a passion with her husband to give throughout the year and “to support the students I’ve grown to love from my 41 years at the University.”

“Ball State has given me much more than just a paycheck. I know all of the ways we build community and support students,” she said. “Even though I’ve retired, I will continue

this monthly donation because I believe that, under the leadership of Dean (Dr. Jim) Buss, Honors College will continue to grow and thrive.”

Answer the Call on One Ball State Day

Looking ahead to this year’s One Ball State Day on April 3, the excitement is building as the University continues Our Call to Beneficence—the largest comprehensive campaign in its history.

Charitable gifts enhance the educational experience and expand student financial support, scholarships, and programs that directly impact the future of Cardinals— empowering them to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. By giving on One Ball State Day, or any day throughout the campaign, gifts are an investment in students.

Donors can allocate gifts to the causes they care about most. Whether it’s athletics, theatre, student emergency aid funding, or many other options, supporters can elect where their dollars go. All donations count toward the overall campaign goal of raising $350 million by 2027.

“On One Ball State Day, your gift is not just a moment; it’s part of an overall movement and an opportunity to shape the future of our University,” said Lola Mauer, ’98 MA ’03, associate vice president of engagement and strategy.

— Jennifer Criss, ’98 MA ’23

NEWS WE FLY / Spring 2024 11 NEWS
10 Ball State University Alumni Magazine Dash & Splash, a new OBSD event in 2023, saw faculty and staff paddling across Lewellen Pool on giant inflatable ducks to compete for challenge dollars for their respective areas. Save the date!
Ball State University President Geoffrey S. Mearns served pizza to students, faculty, and staff at Emens Auditorium as part of the 2023 One Ball State Day. Photo by Samantha Blankenship, ’15

Identify Your ‘Why’

While Our Call to Beneficence: The Campaign for Ball University has just recently entered its public phase, I feel like I’ve heard “the Call” my entire life.

I grew up blocks from campus and attended Burris Laboratory School K-12. My father was on faculty at Ball State, and some of my earliest memories include spending time on campus. I rode my bike in the Quad and learned to swim at Lewellen Pool. I attended art classes in the Summer and Ball State football games in the Fall. I looked forward to Homecoming each year, especially watching the parade in The Village.

I enthusiastically cheered on our men’s basketball team when the Cardinals made it to the NCAA Sweet 16!

As a kid, Ball State was woven into the fabric of my life. My sisters and I graduated from Ball State, and it’s where I met my husband, Todd Crosby, ’95.

Ball State has had a tremendous impact on my family, and I am forever grateful. It is very much a part of my “why.”

—It’s why I love my job! I am fortunate to serve my alma mater as president of the Foundation and Alumni Association and vice president of university advancement.

—It’s why I’m so passionate about our campaign. see firsthand the impact it’s having on our students, faculty, facilities, and community.

—It’s why my husband and I proudly support the campaign. We know our investment is an investment in the future of an institution that has given us so much and will continue to give to countless more students.

Each day as I walk into my office, I see this comment made in 1937 by Frank Clayton Ball: “Beneficence will be an inspiration as the years go by, making this one of the leading educational institutions of the state.” Nearly 90 years later, this remains true. I hope you’ll join me and reflect on how Ball State has impacted your life, identify your “why,” and consider answering Our Call to Beneficence: The Campaign for Ball State University

Jean Kramer Crosby, ’96 President of Ball State Foundation and Alumni Association, Vice President for University Advancement


12 Ball State University Alumni Magazine You can of Ball State University students To learn how a planned gift can support the Ball State University cause of your choice and meet your personal financial needs, visit or contact Senior Director of Planned Giving Tom Ayer at
away to college was
It was
turning point for me and provided me with the opportunity to interact with
student body that was diverse
different from
The people
— Brian
me and my experiences.
I met and professors I worked with shaped who I am today.”
Gallagher, ’81, long-time supporter of Ball State through time, service, and financial giving


Businessman and philanthropist Charles W. Brown, ’71, and his wife, Dr. Louise Tetrick, remain focused on enriching the lives of the Ball State and greater Muncie communities

It didn’t take long for Dr. Louise Tetrick to fall in love with Charles W. Brown’s generous, yet unassuming, nature.

About 20 years ago, Mr. Brown was logging 60-hour work weeks at Southern Bells Inc., the highly successful regional fast food restaurant franchisee business he co-founded. He also served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana.

Big Brothers Big Sisters was hosting a picnic for its mentors and mentees, and Dr. Tetrick was pleasantly surprised at Mr. Brown’s suggestion that she join him to help serve lemonade.

It was one of their first dates.

“It told me a lot about Charlie,” Dr. Tetrick said. “This is what he was choosing to do with his free time.”

The couple married in 2005, and eight years later, Southern Bells Inc. was acquired by Flynn Restaurant Group, the largest franchisee of Applebee’s restaurants in the country. Mr. Brown, now president of the newly-formed Bell American Group, had reached his pinnacle—personally and professionally.

Yet, Mr. Brown’s success brought a greater sense of responsibility. Ever grateful for the people and places that enabled him to achieve such fulfillment, he was eager to expand his philanthropic endeavors.

Accordingly, over the past decade, Mr. Brown’s generosity has made a significant impact on the campus of Ball State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1971.

In 2014, the University opened its Charles W. Brown Planetarium, featuring Indiana’s largest and most technologically advanced digital planetarium theater facility. And in September, Ball State hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening concert at the Brown Family Amphitheater, a new outdoor community performance and gathering space located in the heart of campus.

To Mr. Brown, the lead donor for both the planetarium and amphitheater, alongside Dr. Tetrick, “There’s nothing more rewarding than to see people enjoying something that you had a part in.

“I’m proud of the University. I’m proud to be an alum. And I wish more people could get back to campus to see how it’s changed,” Mr. Brown continued. “So, maybe by helping with these projects, it will attract more students, alumni, and the greater community to Ball State. That’s the goal.”

Future Veterinarian?

Had things gone Mr. Brown’s way as a high school student in Indianapolis in the 1960s, he would’ve instead pursued a career caring for animals.

He applied to just two state universities, including Ball State and Purdue University, but, unable to gain immediate acceptance into Purdue’s veterinary program, he decided to make the move to Muncie.

“I came to Ball State, actually, with the thought of being a science teacher,” Mr. Brown recalled. “I was very interested in science in high school, so that was the direction I was going.”

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Ball State University held a grand opening celebration for the Brown Family Amphitheater on Sept. 19, 2023. The outdoor performance and gathering space was made possible thanks to the generosity of Charles W. Brown, ’71, and his wife, Dr. Louise Tetrick. Drone photo by Anthony Romano, MA ’13

But Mr. Brown eventually switched his major to Business Administration, where he began to build the foundation for a successful career.

While at Ball State, Mr. Brown immersed himself in many student activities. He was the first president of Hurst Hall, then a brand-new residence hall located within the former LaFollette Complex. He became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, the Student Center Governing Board, and the Homecoming Committee, and served as chairman of the Miss Ball State Pageant.

Mr. Brown said he was influenced by Dr. James Marine, then Ball State’s director of student programs, who taught him the importance of embracing leadership roles.

“He’s a guy that I worked with very closely for three-plus years,” Mr. Brown said of Dr. Marine. “He was very impactful and influential, the way he managed student programs.

“That’s when it really clicked,” Mr. Brown continued.

“I think the social and leadership skills that I learned from Sigma Chi and from my campus activities were just as valuable as what I learned in the classroom.”

After graduating from Ball State in the Summer of 1971, Mr. Brown was jumping into a career in business just as singer Don McLean’s hit song, “American Pie,” was beginning to climb the charts.

In 1982, Mr. Brown and business partner Craig Fenneman purchased two Taco Bell franchises in Southern Indiana. More than 30 years later, their company, Southern Bells Inc., which had grown to include 76 regional franchises, was sold to Flynn Restaurant Group.

“Charlie really wanted to be a good steward of this money,” Dr. Tetrick said. “And so, that was the beginning of him really thinking, ‘What am I going to do with this? How will I use it? How can I make a difference?’”

Back to his Roots

In 2010, Mr. Brown, through his good friend and Sigma Chi fraternity brother Larry Metzing, ’70, was introduced to thenBall State President Dr. Jo Ann Gora.

From 2004–14, Dr. Gora oversaw a dramatic transformation of campus, with more than $520 million of facilities construction and renovation completed or undertaken during her presidency. Mr. Brown and Dr. Tetrick, both impressed with Dr. Gora’s leadership, vision, and personality, decided to donate $25,000 to Ball State’s Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass. The following year, they generously contributed to the Ball State Bold Celebration Scholars program, which provided $40,000 each in scholarships to 55 incoming Honors College students.

Those contributions sparked further conversations between Mr. Brown and Dr. Gora, who expressed an interest in upgrading the University’s nearly 50-year-old planetarium.

Mr. Brown, recalling fond memories at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, was intrigued. But his subsequent conversations with former Ball State planetarium Executive Director Ron Kaitchuck, MS ’72, became the deciding factor behind his decision to provide the lead gift for the project.

“We met, and he had such passion about this planetarium,” Mr. Brown said of Mr. Kaitchuck. “And when you hear somebody talking from the heart and how important he thought it was to the students and the University, he really sold me on it.”

Mr. Brown said he had two wishes for the planetarium project: he wanted it to be the largest in Indiana, and for all public programming to be offered free to the community. With its roughly 52-foot dome, that dream became a reality. And now, the facility provides free programming to more than 20,000 visitors annually, many of whom are students from local school systems.

“For some of those kids, it’s the first time they’ve ever been on a college campus,” Mr. Brown said. “And so, I think the planetarium has very much been a success.”

New Performance Facility

Much like under the leadership of Dr. Gora, Ball State’s campus has seen tremendous growth under President Geoffrey S. Mearns, who joined the University in May 2017.

And, similarly to Dr. Gora, President Mearns has earned admiration from Mr. Brown and Dr. Tetrick for his long-range vision and passion for the University and the local community. So, when President Mearns brought up an amphitheater project planned for the heart of campus, Mr. Brown was very intrigued.

Follow-up conversations with Dr. Seth Beckman, MM ’90 DA ’96, dean of the College of Fine Arts, and Bill Jenkins, ’95 MA ’96, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, resulted in another significant financial commitment, leading to the construction of the Brown Family Amphitheater.

“What happened with the amphitheater was that it exposed me to some new people,” Mr. Brown said. “Bill Jenkins and Seth Beckman, just really enjoyed talking with them. And, again, when you get closer to these people, you

find out how much heart they have and how much passion they have for what they’re doing. One can also see how successful they’ve been.”

Located on the grand lawn between Park and Pruis Halls and between Noyer and Woodworth Complexes, the amphitheater is an impressive performance facility for artists and audiences. It features dressing rooms, a green room, storage space, a control room, and a loading dock, as well as a booth/mix station with a lightboard, soundboard, elevated spotlights, truss lighting over the stage, and more.

The University hosted a grand opening event for the Brown Family Amphitheater on Sept. 19, which included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a performance by the Ball State Jazz Ensemble with vocalist and 2021 Ball State graduate Tatum Langley.

In a bit of irony, the City of Muncie on Sept. 2 also hosted a preview concert for the Brown Family Amphitheater that featured a performance from “American Pie” singer-songwriter Don McLean.

And, of course, those two performances were held free of charge and were open to the greater community.

“In all my conversations with Charlie over the years, he has always insisted that his gifts enrich the lives of our faculty, our staff, and our students—and also the lives of our friends and neighbors in the community,” President Mearns said.

“Because Charlie understands that, at its best, a university can be a source of enrichment for a community. That is what Ball State strives to be—for the members of our University community and for all of our friends and neighbors in East Central Indiana.”

Old Connections

Last Fall, Mr. Brown was going through his mail when he noticed a letter from a name that brought back all sorts of memories: Dr. James Marine.

The two had lost contact over the decades, but Dr. Marine had heard of Mr. Brown’s involvement with the new amphitheater and decided to reach out to his former student protégé.

“It was out of the blue. I hadn’t had contact with him for, I don’t know, 40 years,” Mr. Brown said.

That letter turned into a phone call. Then a visit.

“He’s just a good guy. Very influential, particularly from a leadership approach,” said Mr. Brown, a 2016 Miller College of Business (MCOB) Hall of Fame Award recipient who has served on the Cardinal Varsity Club, MCOB Executive Advisory Board, and the Indianapolis CEO Group.

Those kinds of connections, Mr. Brown said, make Ball State special. And it’s why he remains passionate about his alma mater and contributing his time, expertise, and money to further the University’s mission.

“I like being involved—contributing financially or with my presence, serving on a board—mainly because I can keep in touch with the University. That’s why I think it’s important,” Mr. Brown said. “You know what’s going on, and when you’re close to these people, you really get an idea of how much passion there is around the University.” 

The Charles W. Brown Planetarium, the largest planetarium in Indiana, welcomes more than 20,000 visitors per year. The facility’s many public programs and shows are all offered free of charge.

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Charles W. Brown, ’71, and Dr. Louise Tetrick
“All alumni have the opportunity to support our University and other students.”

First-Generation Alumni Know What Support Means

Ball State University graduate Ebonee (Cooper) Doblasse, ’06 MS ’10, knew she wanted to give back to her alma mater in a meaningful way that would benefit students for years to come.

She wanted her gift to have something to do with the campus’ Multicultural Center, and she—along with her sister, Ball State graduate Dr. Darrella Cooper, ’93, an emergency room physician in Texas—wanted to honor their mother, Carolyn “CiCi” Cooper.

So they did it. Ms. Doblasse and Dr. Cooper jointly made a gift that supported the development of a graduate assistant office in the Multicultural Center. The office, officially dedicated on March 24, 2023, was named in honor of their mother— who strongly supported all of her children.

While there are varying definitions of a first-generation college student, Ball State defines the term as those who are the first in their families to attend college, or whose parents or guardians did not complete a college degree. First-gens’ experiences, backgrounds, stresses, and challenges related to college life can be unlike those of their peers.

Ms. Doblasse’s decision to give a gift to her alma mater was independent of her status as a first-generation student. But she thinks being a first-gen student could be a factor for other Cardinal graduates.

“Alums who were first-gen students may want to make a gift to Ball State that supports students like them in this or other ways,” said Ms. Doblasse, of Indianapolis. “And I hope other alums who were first-gens are not deterred from donating to the University.”

Ball State graduate and donor Dr. Laura Cain, ’86 MAE ’98 EdS ’13 EdD ’15, who also was a first-gen student, agrees with Ms. Doblasse. She feels it doesn’t matter whether Cardinal alums have parents or grandparents who graduated from

18 Ball State University Alumni Magazine WE FLY / Spring 2024 19
Dr. Laura Cain ’86 MAE ’98 EdS ’13 EdD ’15 (left), of Walton, Ind., has more than 30 years of experience in the education field, in multiple capacities within numerous school districts across Indiana. Dr. Cain earned her bachelor’s degree in English, plus her master’s and other advanced degrees in Education Leadership, at Ball State. Matt Cain, ’86 (inset), has been a manager for Delphi Electronics in Kokomo, Ind. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Ball State. Photos by Amber Pietz — Dr. Laura Cain, ’86 MAE ’98 EdS ’13 EdD ’15

Ball State—or any college—or whether an alum was the first person in their immediate families to attend college.

“All alumni have the opportunity to support our University and other students,” said Dr. Cain of Walton, Ind.

Dr. Cain and her husband, Ball State graduate Matt Cain, ’86, donate frequently to the University.

“While there are many valuable, charitable organizations to give to, I’ve just never forgotten to make sure that Ball State is on our list of donations,” she said.

Spirit of Generosity, Engagement Inspired by Parents

Neither of Ms. Doblasse’s parents attended college. But that doesn’t mean her parents didn’t encourage her and her siblings to aim high and work hard—especially when education was the goal. It’s that level of support that Ms. Doblasse and her sister, Dr. Cooper, wanted to honor with their gift to the Multicultural Center.

“Both of our parents were extremely hard workers,” Ms. Doblasse said. “My dad learned the electrician trade. He was an electrician in addition to his work at General Motors. My mom worked at General Motors for the majority of her career. From the time that my sisters and I were young, their main focus was to provide us with the best education.”

The sisters decided to honor their mother first, and are looking for other gifting opportunities that can benefit Ball State students and be a way to pay homage to their father, Darrell Cooper.

There is something else Ms. Doblasse hopes people glean from the gift that bears Carolyn “CiCi” Cooper’s name.

“Having students of color come into that building and see a room attached to the name of another person of color, hopefully, they can identify with that name on the room and see that it’s possible to give back to their alma mater and pay tribute to someone they love and respect,” Ms. Doblasse said.

Engaging with one’s alma mater— the school, students, and other alumni, for example—is the other part of the equation for Ms. Doblasse. “My mother instilled in me the importance of being involved, whether I was in high school, at Ball State, or even after that,” she explained.

Dr. Cain’s parents also contributed indirectly to her desire to donate to Ball State, along with her positive Ball State experience.

Although neither of her parents pursued postsecondary education, she grew up planning to go to college. One of her early introductions to Ball State came when she was a high school student. She visited campus during a school organization’s field trip and liked what she saw and experienced. When the time came to apply to colleges, Dr. Cain applied only to Ball State.

“My parents were very supportive. They helped me complete my education. They helped me pay my tuition, room, and board,” Dr. Cain added. “I’ve never forgotten how hard they worked to do that, and their generosity to me. So I want to make sure that other students have that same opportunity.

“I know that not every parent has the opportunity to support their child in that way. I’m more than willing to give back to the University, both in scholarship and in my time, to make sure that students are taken care of and that they don’t need to struggle, if we can make that possible,” Dr. Cain added. “I’m incredibly grateful for not only my parents, but for the life that my husband and I have built. I’m more

Supporting Ball State’s First-Generation College Students

Ball State University supports all of its students, including first-generation college students (first-gens)—students who are the first in their families to attend college, or whose parents or guardians did not complete a college degree. Recognizing that first-gens’ experiences, backgrounds, stresses, and challenges related to college life can be unlike those of their peers, the University offers a network of resources for this segment of the student population. Supporting first-gen Cardinals is another example of Ball State’s commitment to inclusive excellence, infusing diversity, equity, and education quality into the University’s mission and operations.

than willing to always give back to where it all started for us: Ball State.”

The notion of “giving back your time, talent, and treasure” is something Dr. Cain said she learned early in her life from her parents.

“My parents were extremely generous in supporting me—but I also watched them support things they thought were very important,” she explained. “Going back to my childhood, I watched my mother always be active and give back to others. So it became ingrained in me that I’m supposed to remember where I came from, both in my life and my family, as well as where I got my first professional start, which was really Ball State. I have terrific memories of my friends and my college roommate, and we’re all still close today.”

Alumni Engagement & Giving Back

football home games together, where they enjoy connecting with other Ball State alums. One of her favorite things to do is greet alumni at CharlieTown prior to home games and events.

“That’s an important piece of giving back: alumni engagement. After a while, you might decide to donate because you can see the value of your gift, how it matters, and how it can make a difference for students and campus programs. As an engaged alum, you’ll see the value of your contributions,” Dr. Cain said.

Ms. Doblasse also maintains a solid post-graduation relationship with Ball State. Her numerous alumni engagement activities include serving as a One Ball State Day ambassador, and as a mentor in the Top 100 Mentoring Program—which was established alongside the University’s Top 100 Student Awards.

“Alums who were first-gen students may want to make a gift to Ball State that supports students like them …”
— Ebonee (Cooper) Doblasse, ’06 MS ’10

the Multicultural Center



gift that supported the development of this office. Ms. Doblasse earned her bachelor’s degrees in Pre-Medicine and Biology, and her master’s degree in Physiology at Ball State. Dr. Cooper is an emergency room physician in Texas. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Pre-Medicine at Ball State.

Giving back often starts with engaging and maintaining a post-graduation relationship with the University. That engagement can take a variety of forms, including mentoring a student; interacting with other alumni; sharing time, talents, and career experiences in the classroom; or visiting campus for Homecoming, sporting events, or other activities.

Dr. Cain maintains a solid postgraduation relationship with the University that includes being a member of the Ball State Alumni Council for more than 10 years and serving as the council’s chair. She and her husband often attend Cardinal

“By establishing and maintaining a relationship with the University and its students after graduation and staying connected with other alums, you can be on your way to establishing something impactful that could last for generations,” Ms. Doblasse said.

“Alumni may find themselves reflecting on their passions in terms of educational college life, or what was really transformative for them while they attended school here. And that may be something they want to support with a gift,” she continued.

“It doesn’t have to be a large lump sum given all at once. Every donation counts. Every donation helps.” 

20 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Ebonee (Cooper) Doblasse (left), ’06 MS ’10, is pictured with her mother, Carolyn “CiCi” Cooper, during the dedication ceremony of this graduate assistant office in in 2003. Ms. Doblasse and her sister, Dr. Darrella Cooper, jointly a
WE FLY / Spring 2024 21
Photo by Samantha Blankenship, ’15

Philanthropy and Ball State University have always gone hand-in-hand.

In fact, it’s the very basis upon which the institution was founded by five forward-thinking brothers from New York more than a century ago.

In 1917, brothers Lucius L., William C., Edmund B., Frank C., and George A. Ball—industrialists who had moved to Muncie near the turn of the century looking to expand their glass container business—purchased the land and buildings of a failed teacher training school and donated them to the State of Indiana.

The Ball brothers recognized higher education as a means to enhance the city’s growth and development. Their gift became the Indiana State Normal School, Eastern Division, which opened in 1918 to address the state’s growing need for quality teachers.

The brothers’ generous donation, which covered 70 acres of property—10 acres containing school buildings and a dorm— marked just the beginning of their ongoing engagement with the new Muncie college.

Early in 1922, the Ball brothers announced an additional gift of $250,000 to the Normal School to build a gymnasium and to fund other capital projects. That same year, recognizing the family’s generosity, the school’s board of trustees changed the institution’s name to Ball Teachers College. In 1929, it was renamed Ball State Teachers College by the Indiana General Assembly.

In 1965, in recognition of the college’s phenomenal growth in enrollment and facilities and the variety and quality of its educational programs and services, the Indiana General Assembly changed the institution’s name to Ball State University.

As the Ball family grew, so did its interest in the progress and advancement of Ball State and the surrounding city. Having already provided financial gifts to assist in securing buildings for the Muncie YWCA and YMCA, the family in 1926 established its Ball Brothers Foundation. In 1929, Ball Memorial Hospital—an urgently needed medical facility and nurses home—was presented as a gift to the City of Muncie by the Ball brothers.

Since that time, through private family gifts and independent charitable organizations such as Ball Brothers Foundation, the George and Frances Ball Foundation, the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation, and others, the Ball family continues to make a significant impact on Ball State and its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. That connection represents the country’s longest-standing relationship between a giving family and a public institution of higher education.

Hear from four Ball brothers descendants—all of whom serve on Ball Brothers Foundation’s board of directors—who share their memories and thoughts on their family’s legacy at Ball State.

Four descendants of the Ball brothers share memories of the University their family has graciously supported for more than 100 years.
WE FLY / Spring 2024 23 22 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Photos courtesy of Ball State Photo Repository Left: The five Ball brothers pose for a portrait. Left to right: William C. Ball, Frank C. Ball, Lucius L. Ball, Edmund B. Ball, and George A. Ball. Below: Beneficence during its dedication ceremony on Sept. 26, 1937. The statue, funded in part by Muncie residents, symbolizes the generosity of the Ball brothers.

James A. “Jim” Fisher

Grandson, Edmund B. Ball

Chairman, Ball Brothers Foundation Board of Directors Ball State’s current capital campaign, Our Call to Beneficence, certainly conjures many great family memories for Jim Fisher.

Jim’s father, John W. Fisher, former president and chairman of Ball Corp., served in a number of key roles in past University campaigns, including on the national committee for the “Wings for the Future” fundraising effort (1993, more than $44 million raised), the “Above and Beyond” campaign (2002, nearly $113 million raised), and the “Ball State Bold” capital campaign (2011, more than $210 million raised). He was also chairman of the “Drive to Distinction” campaign committee that led to the renovation and expansion of Scheumann Stadium.

Frank Petty, ’91

Great-grandson, Frank C. Ball

Vice Chairman, Ball Brothers Foundation Board of Directors

As a Ball State graduate and Ball brothers descendent, Frank Petty has a unique perspective on his family’s local impact.

Frank, who grew up in Muncie and earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Ball State in 1991, recalls stories from his grandmother, Margaret Ball Petty, daughter of Frank C. Ball. One story involved her father arriving home one day to tell the family, “Well, we bought a college.”

“I always tell people that in their wildest dreams, the Ball brothers never could have imagined the impact that the University would be making in the community more than a century later,” said Frank Petty, who was named after his great-grandfather, Frank C. Ball.

Jim’s mother, Janice Kelsey Ball Fisher—daughter of Edmund B. Ball—was also very involved in the philanthropic scene in and around Ball State and Muncie. She was particularly interested in health and fitness, as evidenced by her $4.35 million donation in 2000 with her husband to create the Fisher Distinguished Professorship in Wellness and Gerontology, and an endowed chair in the same field. The gift also helped the University develop a community wellness outreach program and expand Scheumann Stadium to include the Fisher Training Complex.

Also, in 1988, the couple donated $2 million to establish the John & Janice Fisher Chair in Exercise Science, which also helped finance the construction of Worthen Arena. In recognition of their generosity, the University renamed its existing wellness institute the John & Janice Fisher Institute for Wellness and Gerontology.

Like William Bracken, Jim Fisher, who also spent his childhood in Muncie, said his parents emphasized the importance of adequately preserving the legacy of beneficence that his grandfather and his four brothers started.

“I think we grew up feeling like we were normal like most every other family, but my parents also made it quite clear that there was a family legacy there, and that it was important for us to acknowledge and understand the responsibility that comes with that,” said Jim, who worked for Ball Corp. for more than three decades. “They said that no matter where we ended up living, being a part of the community and giving back to it through time and treasure is a way to share our blessings, much like our grandparents did.”

Jim, formerly chairman of the IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, board member of Delaware Advancement Corporation, and advisory board member of Old National Bank, now lives in North Carolina.

Margaret Ball Petty, according to her grandson, was a “woman ahead of her time.” She succeeded her husband as president of Ball Stores and was a director of Ball Corp. She was also an accomplished pilot and artist. In 1976, through the Margaret Ball Petty Foundation, she was instrumental in procuring the nine-foot bronze statue, “The Passing of the Buffalo,” by Cyrus Dallin, for Muncie’s downtown district, as a memorial to her late husband, Fred J. Petty.

That love of art, which was passed down from Frank C. Ball, who had a significant art collection, led to the construction of the Fine Arts Building in 1935. In 1991, the gallery changed its name to the Ball State University Museum of Art, and in 2011, the renovated museum was renamed the David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA) in honor of the generous gifts of David Owsley, Frank C. Ball’s grandson and Margaret Ball Petty’s nephew.

Today, DOMA, in addition to its utility as an educational tool for Ball State students and faculty, continues to be a community resource and point of pride for the city and region, hosting several free public exhibitions for thousands of guests annually.

“I know my father and grandmother both felt like they were at a better place in life because of the success that the Ball brothers had in Muncie. And they felt it was very important to give back to the community and the University,” Frank Petty said. “The Museum of Art is free and open to the public and has an incredible and extensive collection. And I think that’s one of the many fine examples of the family opening its arms to the Muncie community and saying, ‘We’re doing this for you. We’re here because of you, and we’re doing this because of you.’”

Frank, who is currently principal of Walnut and Charles Properties, is a former member of the Camp Crosley YMCA Board of Managers and former board member of The Children’s House, a Montessori school. He lives in Traverse City, Mich.

Jud Fisher

Great-grandson, Edmund B. Ball

President & Chief Executive Officer, Ball Brothers Foundation

Coming from a small town in Michigan, Jud Fisher never forgot his childhood trips to the “big city” of Muncie, where his family’s presence was everywhere, from Ball Corp. and its factories on the southside, to Ball Stores downtown, to Ball State University and Ball Memorial Hospital on the westside.

So, when Jud moved to Muncie permanently in 1996 to take a job at the hospital and then was tapped to lead Ball Brothers Foundation in 2003, he made it his mission not only to thoroughly learn and respect the Ball family history in the area, but to use that local knowledge to maintain his family’s legacy into the next generation and beyond.

“I just totally dove in,” Jud said. “I’m proud of the name, and I just want to be able to support this community to the best of my ability and support the mission of the foundation. And having this University here, it’s incredible.”

In 2023, Ball Brothers Foundation, under Jud’s leadership, awarded 174 grants to organizations in Muncie, Delaware County, and throughout Indiana. Those grants totaled $8.8 million, the second-highest single-year payout in the foundation’s history. The foundation also continues to provide vital funding for many Ball State-related projects, including a $1 million initial grant in 2018 to support the University’s historic partnership with Muncie Community Schools.

To Jud, continuing to make a positive difference for the University his family helped establish more than 100 years ago is an “incredible feeling.”

“It’s just amazing to me, the age of the foundation and the connection with Ball State, and how important Ball State is to the city, this region, and beyond,” Jud said. “It’s just a source of pride, and it’s a privilege and an honor to be able to serve on the foundation named after this family that works so closely with the University.”

William M. Bracken

Grandson, Frank C. Ball

Director, Ball Brothers Foundation Board of Directors Board of Directors, George and Frances Ball Foundation Growing up in Muncie, William Bracken remembers listening in as his father, Alexander Bracken, would host then-Ball State President John R. Emens and other University leaders at their historic Westwood Neighborhood home— later gifted to Ball State to use as the University’s presidential residence now known as Bracken House—to discuss a multitude of important topics about the state of the institution, the city, business, and more.

Alexander Bracken, a lawyer by trade who spent 45 years with Ball Brothers Co., later Ball Corp., retiring as chairman in 1978, also spent 15 years as president of Ball State’s Board of Trustees. In 1974, Ball State named its brand-new campus library, which opened the following year, in his honor.

“I would sit in on discussions that they had, particularly about the importance of the University in the community,” William said. “My father just felt that education was an important factor of a thriving community.”

William said his mother, Rosemary Ball Bracken, Frank C. Ball’s daughter, also instilled in her children the importance of grace and humility as a member of one of the more prominent families in the area.

She led by example as a member of the founding board of the Minnetrista Cultural Foundation and as a board member of the George and Frances Ball Foundation.

“What she tried to pass on was that, without being trite, those who are given a lot, there’s a lot expected of them,” William said. “She liked to put the focus on the fact that if we have an opportunity to do good things in the community, then let’s do them.”

William, who is retired after a career in real estate, currently lives in Minneapolis, and enjoys spending time in Arizona. He is also an emeritus trustee of Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.

William’s brother, Frank A. Bracken, also served as the president of Ball State’s Board of Trustees. The Frank A. Bracken Administration Building—the oldest building on campus—is named in his honor. 

24 Ball State University Alumni Magazine WE FLY / Spring 2024 25 Photos courtesy of Ball Brothers Foundation
Our children had good experiences and got a great education at Ball State. We want that for other students, too.
Some people know a good thing when they see it, and are kind enough to help make it available to others.

Dan and Sabrina Starck are two such people. They appreciate the many things that make Ball State University special—even though neither of them attended Ball State— and want to help future Cardinals have a great education and college-life experience. So it was a no-brainer for Dan and Sabrina to decide to donate to the University.

They didn’t need to be students at Ball State to gain an appreciation for the University’s beautiful campus, its culture, people, community atmosphere, technology, and other education-based amenities.

The Starcks learned about those things through their visits to campus, and by watching their four children— Cameron, ’15 (bachelor’s degree in Accounting); Cailey Starck Witmer, ’15 (bachelor’s degree in Special Education); Courtney, ’19 (bachelor’s degree in Biology); and Cathryn, ’22 (bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology)—learn and flourish at Ball State. With Cailey playing on Ball State’s soccer team and Cathryn playing on the University’s volleyball team, the Starck children’s Ball State experience was enhanced even more. Sports have always been an important component of the Starcks’ family life, Dan Starck said.

“All of our kids went to school here. Regardless of whether they played sports during their college years, they love Ball State,” he added. “They got a great education, had a great time, and they really matured as adults while at this school. We thought it would be good to do something to make a good college experience possible for others. We wanted to do something related to sports.”

The Starcks’ gift to Ball State came in 2023, a year after Cathryn, their youngest child, graduated from the University. Their gift will support the development of the University’s Championship Performance Center, which will be adjacent to Worthen Arena and the Dr. Don Shondell Practice Center on Ball State’s campus.

Four Children, All Cardinals

It wasn’t pre-planned for the Starcks—a family from Orange County, Calif.—to have all four children graduate from Ball State. Each child had that moment when they knew they wanted to come to Muncie. It started when Cailey was recruited to play soccer for the Cardinals and visited campus with her parents and her brother, Cameron. After touring the campus, Cameron decided that he, too, wanted to attend Ball State.

Courtney began her college career at a large university in Michigan. Then, she decided to transfer to Ball State.

“It was just overwhelming at the first school,” Dan said. “She would often come to Ball State to watch all of her sister’s soccer games, and then the next thing we knew, she told us, ‘I filled out paperwork to transfer to Ball State.’ And she transferred.”

Later, the Starcks’ youngest daughter, Cathryn, a volleyball player, decided to go to Ball State after being recruited to play for the Cardinals.

“She wanted to come to the Midwest, and she really wanted to play for Ball State because all of her siblings went there,” Sabrina said.

“Two of our girls played sports at Ball State. Cailey played soccer, and Cathryn played volleyball,” Dan noted. “Our other two children, Cameron and Courtney, were around all the sports programs when they attended Ball State. They all loved Ball State and their time there. And athletics has always been a very big thing in our family. So, Sabrina and I thought it would be good to make a donation that would go to the new sports performance center.

“Our whole thought around donating was, well, neither of us were students at Ball State. But we spent a tremendous amount of time in and around the school and its athletics department because our kids went to Ball State and were involved in the school’s athletics by playing, or watching their siblings play,” Dan continued. “So, I would say that Sabrina and I have as close of a connection to Ball State as we have to the schools we attended. Our children had good experiences and got a great education at Ball State. We want that for other students, too.” 

26 Ball State University Alumni Magazine WE FLY / Spring 2024 27
Photos by Bobby Ellis, ’13


Megan Pax, junior

Anaiah Lee, senior

Elementary Education and Special Education, Exceptional Needs | Ryan Family Scholars

“Going to college breaks the generational curses that a lot of kids who look like me go through. Graduating college is a milestone that many people in my family couldn’t even think about. I knew I wanted to be a part of a program that would build me up as a teacher. The Ryan Family Scholarship was more than just money; the Ryans and the program staff actually care about us as students.”

Art Education | Student Emergency Aid Fund

“Last Spring, my father was hospitalized for a long time. So, he was out of work. Usually, my parents help me with studio fees required for my Art Education degree. Unfortunately, they couldn’t help that semester—which also happened to be a critical time for me to take two studios: metals and printmaking. I couldn’t afford to pay the studio fees. Thankfully, the Student Emergency Aid Fund helped me cover those fees so I could earn my degree.”

Hope Stauffer, ’23

James Nichols, senior

Social Work | Faculty Mentorship Program (Disability Services)

“I had the opportunity to be paired with a mentor through the Faculty Mentorship Program that is sponsored by Disability Services. My mentor was amazing, and the extra support was a great benefit. My experience with Disability Services has been absolutely incredible. From my freshman year to now, I’ve had constant support, and I’ve always been able to talk with them about any issue related to accessibility, accommodations, or personal needs. They’re always here and willing to help.”

Graduate Student, Emerging Media Design and Development | Chad Muller Scholarship

“Scholarships have not only helped me financially but have also helped me gain more self-confidence. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of not believing in yourself or not knowing if your work is good enough. When I received the Chad Muller Scholarship, it boosted my confidence and reminded me why I love the visual arts and storytelling. I had the opportunity to take an Immersive Learning class where I got to be part of a documentary crew. This class was one of the highlights of my undergraduate education because I got real-world experience.”

Student support is embedded in all the programs, initiatives, and over-arching goals of the Our Call to Beneficence campaign. At Ball State, student support takes many shapes, but for the students who need and receive support, it’s all about shaping their success.

Katie Witte, senior

Business Analytics | Ed Shipley Alumni Association Fellowship Scholarship

“Receiving a scholarship has helped me feel like I belong at Ball State. It empowered me to know that other people believe I’m as smart and successful as I believe I am. I’m a first-generation college student, so getting the Shipley Fellowship pushed me to excel in my academics and my major. The connections that I’ve made with current students and alumni have been an absolutely amazing experience.”

Ishan Witanachchi, freshman

Computer Science | Nole L. and Rosalyn M. Walters Scholarship

“Money for college was always a concern in my household. The Nole L. and Rosalyn M. Walters Scholarship serves not only as financial support but also as an investment in my future. In my Computer Science major, I hope to continue researching links between technology and music, as well as find important internship opportunities where I can make a difference. I want to help change the world by uplifting people and using my voice as a platform of positivity.”

Graduate Student, Quantitative Psychology | Action Research Collective

“As a member of the Action Research Collective, I’ve had the opportunity to present at the Indiana Association of Blacks in Higher Education Symposium. Presenting my work gave me the opportunity to do new things that I’ve never had the chance to do. I’ve been able to receive feedback from really great faculty mentors, and engage in research—which is very important when you’re interested in continuing in higher education or even continuing in the professional world.”

Rainna Yarborough, sophomore

Associate Director of Cardinal Kitchen

“My experience with Cardinal Kitchen as a volunteer has honestly changed who I am. I started volunteering as a freshman to get some community service under my belt. As I started coming more, I realized that I really enjoy volunteering and the sense of community I’ve felt from meeting different volunteers and patrons. Every week, it gives me a lot of strength to keep going. I hope for Cardinal Kitchen to continue to grow and expand, and for more students to be aware of what we have here. It’s an area where we can all come together and support one another as a community.”

28 Ball State University Alumni Magazine WE FLY / Spring 2024 29
Kayla Thompson, ’23

We’re counting on you to Answer the Call.

Beneficence is more than a statue on the Quad. It defines the character of the Ball State community. It’s a tangible reminder of our commitment to enduring values.

Our Call to Beneficence: The Campaign for Ball State University is an opportunity to fulfill our purpose.

Ball State was founded from the generosity of donors. Today, our founders and their desire to do good for other people continue our University’s mission to enable our students to have fulfilling careers, to lead meaningful lives and to support our communities. Ball State does good by nurturing the minds and character of its students and by lending its strength to the communities it serves.

The University’s dedication to our enduring values has resulted in remarkable success. Seizing the opportunity, we have launched a fundraising campaign to sustain our momentum.

30 Ball State University Alumni Magazine WE FLY / Spring 2024 31


Financial support initiatives give students a boost during difficult times

I f only the college experience were simply a matter of students attending classes and soaking in the information and expertise around them. Unfortunately, the journey through college, a path to knowledge and self-discovery, can also be fraught with unforeseen challenges that significantly hamper student academic success. Various impediments outside the classroom, including financial struggles and mental health issues, can make the college experience difficult.

One of the most significant barriers to student success is financial hardship. Beyond tuition and room and board, students experience a myriad of other college-related expenses, including textbooks, utilities, parking passes, graduation regalia, and more. With these expenses, students can find themselves navigating a financial minefield. According to a recent survey of Ball State University students, 58% of respondents report some form of financial hardship—leading to academic disruptions and, in extreme cases, withdrawal from college.

Minor issues can quickly become major roadblocks and turn into stressors for students. Illness, transportation issues, reduced work hours or job loss, and unexpected expenses can all deplete resources. Balancing family needs, financial obligations, academic expectations, and stress can overwhelm students and be harmful to their overall well-being.

Recognizing these challenges, Ball State and educational institutions across the country are implementing targeted support initiatives to assist students facing adversity. Emergency grants, textbook libraries, and basic needs assistance programs aim to provide a safety net for those on the brink of financial instability. These efforts lessen the likelihood that a student has to choose between essential needs and academic success.

The Jack Beyerl Emergency Aid Fund at Ball State is one such initiative.

Named in honor of Dr. Merrill “Jack” Beyerl for his distinguished 35-year career at Ball State as the University’s first-ever vice president of student affairs and dean of students, this fund is the source of emergency aid grants given to help students overcome financial emergencies. These one-time grants, administered and coordinated by the Office of Student Affairs, typically do not exceed $500. Student Affairs assists between 400 and 600 students in financial need annually. Last year, more than $90,000 in emergency aid funding was disbursed.

WE FLY / Spring 2024 33 32 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Photo by Bobby Ellis, ’13

“We prioritize students’ basic needs. Students could be late or behind on rent—who may be facing eviction—or students struggling to pay for Wi-Fi, which is critical to academic work; or having difficulties paying utilities,” said Dr. Tiffany Peters, ’06 MA ’08 EDD ’16, Ball State’s assistant vice president for student affairs. “We don’t want anyone to go without electricity or heat. We also focus on filling gaps in other resources, such as food. If students have exhausted all of their other options, we are there to assist.”

Student Affairs personnel also direct students to other resources such as Cardinal Kitchen—an on-campus food pantry where students can obtain free pantry staples, fresh fruits and vegetables, toiletries, and more.

Other resources include referrals to mental health support and services available through the Counseling Center to help address mental health issues. Student Affairs staff can also inform students on how and where to obtain benefits from SNAP (a state government food assistance program in Indiana), Medicaid, or other assistance a student might need.

Recognizing the stigma associated with seeking financial assistance and support for mental health, the University, which prioritizes and respects student privacy, strives to create a supportive and non-judgmental environment. However, it can still be difficult for students to openly discuss their challenges. A senior student, who asked to remain anonymous, shared their experience with receiving support funds.

“I was in an abusive relationship and divorced in the middle of a semester,” the student said. “The divorce process took over a year and left me financially drained, but I was able to find both financial and academic support during this time through the Jack Beryl Emergency Aid Fund and the success coaching offered on campus. Both of these services were key factors in being able to graduate, which I am now on track to do.”

Expanding Student Support: A Community of Care

With the Our Call to Beneficence campaign, Ball State seeks to amplify these support initiatives by engaging the University’s graduates and benefactors. The Division of Student Affairs’ goal of $16.5 million for student support will directly contribute to enriching student programs and addressing the identified barriers to success. Most will be devoted to scholarships, but $1 million will be allocated to microgrants for emergency funding for students experiencing financial hardship.

“These donation funds do not automatically go toward University charges,” said Ro-Anne Royer Engle, vice president of student affairs. “They go directly to the student so they can use the resources the way they need to in that moment.

“And when we talk with students, the one thing they always tell us is how grateful they are that the University cared for them in their time of need,” she added. “Of course, we care all the

time, and we show that in many different ways. But when someone is really at a point where they feel they do not have any options or any resources and they receive a grant, they share how grateful they are that they can continue their education, focus on their academics, and keep going.”

By channeling campaign funds into emergency support, affordable materials, and mentorship programs, Ball State aims to create a more supportive ecosystem for students. The University strives to expand its current support initiatives and direct additional funds toward mental health support, speakers and workshops, mentorship programs, and more. There are also plans to create new support programs, such as funds for graduation regalia.

Every year, a handful of students choose not to attend commencement ceremonies because they cannot afford the cap, gown, and other regalia. The University intends to set aside $25,000 of campaign funds to assist students in the purchase of these materials so they do not have to pass up on this important milestone because of an inability to pay for regalia.

Another use of campaign funding will be for the health and well-being of students.

College students face challenges that contribute to loneliness and despair, so their mental health and well-being could be at risk. Establishing innovative ways to deliver care, resources, intervention, and support to students is essential. Adding to the existing resource of in-person counseling, the University introduced a 24-hour crisis hotline. There is also Togetherall, a 24/7 peer-support online community. The University is constantly looking at ways to support student health and wellbeing in the broadest sense.

“One goal we have is that we would love to be able to embed a mental health counselor with our University Police Department as they go out to respond to students of concern,” Ms. Royer Engle said. “Whether that is a student with suicidal ideation, suicide threat, or experiencing some mental health conditions, if we can have an embedded counselor at key points in the day, somebody who can work with our police officers to help people who are in crisis in those moments, that would be so beneficial. So, that’s one of the things we want to explore at the University if we meet our funding goals.”

The college experience goes beyond just grades and textbooks. It is vital to understand and address the non-academic hardships that students face. That’s where the Our Call to Beneficence campaign comes in, aiding Ball State in creating an environment where

student can thrive and embark on a

Student Satisfaction Survey

Ball State University conducts a student satisfaction survey to gather anonymous, self-reported data. The University receives around 2,500 responses per semester. It is a great way for faculty and administrators to gauge what hinders student success and retention.

Dr. Eva Grouling Snider, an instructional consultant in the Division of Online and Strategic Learning (DOSL), facilitates the distribution of the student satisfaction survey and synthesizes the results. Dr. Grouling Snider analyzes the data to discover the ways Ball State, as an institution, can help students be more successful and enhance student retention.

“These statistics help paint the broader picture that this is a national problem,” Dr. Grouling Snider said. “Financial hardship isn’t just a Ball State issue, but all of higher education and our current economy. It affects our students, and we have to open our eyes to that reality. Fixing these issues requires effort at all levels, including work with faculty and students at the grassroots level, as well as implementing systemic changes to really make college more affordable. At the end of the day, it all comes down to a place of care to support our students.”

Of the surveyed students facing financial hardship, 30% reported hardship as moderate to severe. Students who are experiencing this hardship are more likely to also be facing issues with fatigue, mental health, and motivation. These findings are closely tied together with students dealing with multiple challenges at the same time.

Ball State Students’ Top 5 Struggles

2,514 respondents

Source: Student Satisfaction Survey, Ball State University, Fall 2023 76

34 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
WE FLY / Spring 2024 35
every college journey that becomes a stepping stone toward a bright future. 
% 58%
% Exhaustion
Mental health Motivation to complete schoolwork Financial hardship Affordability of course materials
or fatigue
Previous page: Student support programs provided by Ball State University can help students complete their path to graduation. Below: Located in L.A. Pittenger Student Center, Room L-27, Cardinal Kitchen provides pantry staples to students facing food insecurity. Photo by Bobby Ellis, ’13

Like many first-year students, Cameron Lynch entered college with an open mind about her major and potential career path.

So, after completing her first semester last Fall at Ball State University, Ms. Lynch said she thought Psychology would be the program she’d like to pursue.

Unfortunately for Ms. Lynch, the registration deadline for Spring classes was rapidly approaching. She worried that she might fall behind if she could not schedule a last-second meeting with her academic advisor to help fill out her schedule.

But, as Ms. Lynch soon found out, she had another terrific option tailored specifically to her needs.

She was able to schedule a meeting with Madeline Shelton, ’23, a graduate assistant at the College of Sciences and Humanities’ (CSH) new Success Hub. Ms. Shelton listened to Ms. Lynch’s wishes and concerns and, as a Psychology major herself, provided knowledge and insight into which classes she should be taking in the Spring and beyond, helping map out the rest of Ms. Lynch’s college career.

“The Success Hub was really comforting to go to because I was a little stressed about my next semester, and it gave me someone I could talk to about my worries,” Ms. Lynch said. “Madeline was a Psychology major, and she

helped me figure out, ‘OK, if you were to take this opportunity, what would it look like?’ And she helped me figure out how to go from there.”

The CSH Success Hub is part of Ball State’s robust new student success initiatives. What started with a task force to help address student retention during the COVID-19 pandemic has developed into, among many other programs and services, the hiring of student success directors at each of the University’s seven academic colleges. Those colleges, in turn, have developed their own customized student success “centers” and staffing to centralize key student resources into one convenient location within their respective buildings.

The student success centers were the brainchild of a group led by Dr. Jason Rivera, vice provost for student success and dean of University College. The academic unit houses many of Ball State’s student-centered programs and services that enhance students’ success, such as Academic Advising, the Learning Center, Student Athlete Support Services, First-Year Experience, and Student Success Coaching.

“At the college level, there are very specific things that students need within their colleges for them to be successful that were sort of dispersed all over the place before, and students had to go to multiple spaces and places to

get answers and support,” Dr. Rivera said. “So, the real goal for each one of these centers and their directors is to be the college-specific advocate for student success-related supports and services.”

Ball State’s new student success centers , established within each academic college, centralize essential student resources

While the CSH Success Hub, located in the North Quad building, is an example of a brand new, built-out space, other colleges have taken a different approach to their student success centers, with hopes of expanding in the future. Funding through Our Call to Beneficence will help all colleges in these efforts.

“The idea was that if we didn’t have the physical space, then we would have these central locations where the director, advisors, and other support personnel would all be co-located, so students wouldn’t experience the ‘Ball State bounce’ and have to go to multiple locations to get supports and services,” Dr. Rivera said. “So, it’s really the co-location of offices, and if, in fact, it’s possible for that to be a center or a central space for students, then we will do that.”

For students like Ms. Lynch, her first positive experience with a Ball State student

success center has opened the door to many other opportunities to enhance her college experience as she builds the foundation for a fulfilling career and a meaningful life. She said she is looking forward to returning to the CSH Success Hub to participate in other worthwhile programming, such as study sessions during finals week and opportunities to engage with alumni mentors and employers.

That’s music to the ears of Dr. Rivera.

“We partner with students to help them achieve their fullest potential, and acknowledge and honor the promises we make to them when we admit them,” Dr. Rivera said.

“We are spending time trying to support all of our students—our most vulnerable, our highest achieving, and those right in the middle. And, as part of that work, we’re including their voices in the conversation. We’re having conversations with them about what they need, and then we’re building the types of support and resources that they are telling us they need to be successful. And that is actually working.” 

“Essentially, what we’re trying to do is make sure students have a consistent common experience, but that at the college level, our student success directors are tailoring their services to their specific students.”

— Dr. Jason Rivera, vice provost for student success and dean of University College

WE FLY / Spring 2024 37 36 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Ball State students utilize the new College of Sciences and Humanities Success Hub, located in the North Quad building. Each academic college at the University now has a student success center, centralizing key resources. Photos by Bobby Ellis, ’13

College of Communication, Information, and Media

From Day One

Embracing new technology to help students build their futures

Over the last 20 years, advancements in technology have increased significantly. Access to information is as easy as a few taps on a smartphone.

But with this convenience also comes significant challenges. How does one wield this windfall of information to serve our greatest needs—to encourage a sense of meaning in our lives as we connect to one another? With each new technological innovation and digital platform, the demand for thoughtful, ethical communication professionals grows almost exponentially.

As a leader in the industry, Ball State University’s College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM) has its sights set on preparing its nearly 1,600 students to thrive in these ever-changing and fast-paced technology-based fields. When ambitious and talented students are given the confidence and necessary tools to succeed, they are able to thrive in this constantly evolving landscape, giving CCIM a clear goal for its budgeting and fundraising efforts.

“When we think about communication across the past several decades, every time we have a new technological innovation, it changes our relationships with others and how we communicate with each other,” said Dr. Paaige Turner, dean of CCIM. “Our college has always been committed to maintaining the technology that our students are going to be using, while instilling in them an understanding of symbolic human interaction and ethical communication.”

Technology used to be something that would change every 10 years, maybe every five years. Now, technology can change every six months, according to Dean Turner.

“Our college is very intentional about refreshing old technology that is broken but is still used in the industry, while adding innovation to our new technology. That’s why it is so important for us to be able to have funds available to do that,” she said. “We used to only need to refresh equipment and add equipment maybe every 10 years. Now, we need to be refreshing and adding on a regular basis.”

CCIM’s Distinct Advantage Benefits Students

Improvements have already been made across the college, and more are continually in the plans for Sports Link, the Unified Research Lab, Department of Media, Emerging Media Design and Development, and the Center for Information and Communication Sciences.

Studio spaces are also receiving a major upgrade, including a special volume wall that is scheduled to open in Fall 2024. A volume wall, a system of linked high-end LED panels used to display video footage or 3D content to form a background behind actors, was used in “Star Wars” and the “Mandalorian” series. It will be one of only a handful at any university around the country, along with institutions in Georgia, Florida, and California.

“The production industry is moving to the use of LED walls, and the skills and abilities to use that cutting-edge innovation are becoming one of the additional tools that our students have to have to reach the top of their field,” Dean Turner said.

What gives CCIM a distinct advantage over other similar programs across the country is that it empowers its students to begin their careers the moment they step foot on campus. CCIM students don’t have to wait until their junior or senior year to gain access to all of the technological innovations available.

Since it is how technology is used that makes the difference, the college is also developing curricula in conjunction with the implementation of new technologies, including a forthcoming media technology program, an infusion of AI across the curriculum, visual effects, and extended reality.

“Our college has made a commitment that, from day one, our students will have opportunities to apply their learning, and to engage with the students as well as our faculty, our staff, and our community members,” Dean Turner said. “From day one, they have access to the technology and the labs that we have through swipe card access. From day one, they have access to our checkout facility, where I watch students check out a cart that has over $100,000 of equipment such as media lights, cameras, and sound equipment on it.”

One of those students who has been positively impacted by CCIM’s commitment is first-year student Aasha Watkins, who is majoring in Media with a concentration in Sports Production.

“It’s so empowering to have access to all of the technology that is offered here,” Ms. Watkins said. “If I can use this equipment to be this successful as a freshman, there’s no telling what I can do as a junior or a senior here at Ball State.” 

WE FLY / Spring 2024 39 38 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
This page: The College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM) has embraced the use of new technologies as the industry rapidly develops every few months, including the use of virtual reality headsets as a learning tool. Opposite page: Studio spaces, like the one located in the David Letterman Communication and Media Building, are receiving upgrades throughout CCIM. The college is in the process of installing a new volume wall that is set to be completed prior to the Fall 2024 semester. Photos by Samantha Blankenship, ’15

College of Fine Arts

Increasing Access to Art

The David Owsley Museum of Art is expanding its footprint

Uplift. Educate. Inspire. Art can do all of that and more— which is why it is meant to be shared with, and experienced by, as many people as possible.

With donor support during the Our Call to Beneficence comprehensive campaign, Ball State University’s David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA) plans to add to its already broad reach by expanding in ways that will make this world-class facility and its treasures accessible to even more students, faculty, staff, and members of the off-campus community. With that comes the potential to improve the museum visitor experience and multiply DOMA’s cultural offerings to East Central Indiana and beyond.

Without altering the exterior of its iconic Fine Arts Building on the campus’ Quad, the DOMA expansion will repurpose existing interior space that has long served as labs, classrooms, and offices for the Department of Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources (EGNR). Plans underway for EGNR to relocate to the renovated Cooper Science Building (just west of the museum) will leave DOMA

About David T. Owsley

DOMA is named after David T. Owsley, a major benefactor and significant fundraiser for the museum. Mr. Owsley, a Muncie native, is the son of Alvin and Lucy Ball Owsley, and the grandson of Frank C. Ball, one of the five New York brothers who relocated their glass container business to Muncie and help establish the University. Frank C. Ball was instrumental in the construction of the Fine Arts Building in 1935–36. Through the years, Ball family members, including David T. Owsley, have donated or loaned more than 6,000 works of art to the museum. In recognition of Mr. Owsley’s generosity, he was awarded Ball State’s President’s Medal of Distinction in 1989, and an honorary doctorate of humanities in 2005.

with approximately 9,500 square feet, in various parts of the building, to be strategically repurposed.

DOMA’s educational mission includes welcoming Ball State’s campus community, K-12 students, and lifelong learners. The museum, which does not charge an admission fee, had more than 35,000 visits annually prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to DOMA Director Dr. Robert La France. That includes more than 5,000 pre-registered visits by Ball State students who came to the museum as part of a class— and about 3,500 local K-12 students who visited DOMA as part of a pre-registered program. DOMA is experiencing steady upticks toward its pre-pandemic annual visitation figure.

“As we’re able to make these fantastic changes, renovations, and expansion within the historic building’s envelope, we’ll be ready to accommodate our pre-pandemic number of annual visits and more,” Dr. La France said.

Dr. Seth Beckman, MM ’90 DA ’96, dean of Ball State’s College of Fine Arts, agrees.

“We never lose sight of our function as part of a university that serves students, the community, and the greater good,” Dean Beckman said. “With this expansion, we can deepen and broaden our community engagement and outreach.”

Interior renovations will be done to maximize the usage of space. Former EGNR classrooms will be converted into object study and hands-on activity rooms for visiting K-12 students. Additionally, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system will be upgraded for continued protection of the collection through internal climate control.

The museum will also gain capacity to display more art by increasing gallery space, and adding more storage area for works of art that aren’t on display. Already, DOMA has well over 12,000 original works representing all seven continents—a testament to Ball State’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

While most of the major changes will take place on the ground floor, part of the top floor will be the site of a significant transformation. Museum office space there will be converted

into a “white cube” gallery—a minimalistic, white-walled, well-lit display area for contemporary art. DOMA’s office operations will be relocated to the first floor. Consolidating existing storage space on the top floor with storage areas on the first floor will also create more space for exhibiting modern art.

DOMA student employee Olivia Miller, a senior in Ball State’s Art Education program, is excited about what the expansion can mean for visitors interested in experiencing art up close. In her role as an education assistant at the museum, Ms. Miller develops and leads tours, creates educational programming for visitors, and runs activities at community events.

“As a student working in museum education and training to be a public school teacher, I understand how important it is to see art in person,” Ms. Miller said. “This museum is a gem for this community. DOMA’s collection is extensive, and having more space to display work would expand the types of tours we can lead, as well as the subject matter visitors will view. Everyone in the community will benefit from this expansion, and we are all so proud to be a part of a museum that is alive, vibrant, and growing.” 

WE FLY / Spring 2024 41 40 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Above: A group of students tour the David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA). Parts of DOMA will undergo major changes—with funds raised in the campaign—to expand its footprint. Below: In this photo from 1962, Burris Laboratory School students get a guided tour of the museum. For decades, the museum has welcomed community members from near and far. Photo by Samantha Blankenship, ’15

College of Health

Educating Students, Serving Communities


the reach

of student-delivered healthcare and cultivating community-driven solutions

One of the remarkable aspects of the approach used by Ball State University’s College of Health (COH) is its students’ active provision of healthcare services. By immersing students in the delivery of healthcare—and blending that with community engagement—the University educates future healthcare professionals and positively impacts the people it serves.

“Through training and educating students, we’re helping people in the community with their healthcare and decreasing healthcare disparities at the same time,” said Dr. Scott Rutledge, dean of the College of Health.

The College of Health’s Interprofessional Community Clinics (ICCs)—the Healthy Lifestyle Center, the Counseling Practicum Clinic, the Audiology Clinic, and the SpeechLanguage Pathology Clinic—play a pivotal role in the broader effort to address community healthcare needs and educate future healthcare professionals.

“Serving as a student clinician in the Ball State Audiology Clinic made a tremendous impact,” said Rylee Ellett, ’21, a Doctor of Audiology student. “Within the first couple of weeks, I was able to begin applying skills learned in the classroom to patients and gain hands-on experience. Within my first year, I had already worked with cochlear implants, vestibular pathologies, and a variety of appointments. Not only did this deepen my understanding of audiology, it made me a strong clinician. While my growth as a clinician soared, so did my passion and confidence.”

In 2023, the ICCs welcomed nearly 15,000 patient visits and provided a wide range of services to community members of various ages. The ICCs are always actively looking for ways to fill gaps in local healthcare, such as the ICCs’ relatively new falls prevention program, a community walking program, and speech and communication rehabilitative services for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

To learn more about Interprofessional Community Clinics visit

What the ICCs offer:


Diagnostic services

Hearing evaluations (newborn, child, and adult)

Tinnitus evaluations

Evaluation of dizziness and balance

Fall risk assessment

Auditory Processing Disorder evaluations

Rehab services

Hearing aid evaluations/fittings

Cochlear implant evaluations/fittings

Ear wax removal

Balance and dizziness rehabilitation programs

Hearing protection services

The Interprofessional Community Clinics is a non-profit organization that provides its services at reasonable rates. While some services are offered at no cost, others are billed through insurance, and those fees for services are used to support and maintain clinic operations. However, patients are not turned away for an inability to pay.

A Catalyst for Access

COH envisions using the Our Call to Beneficence campaign as a catalyst for transformative change. Through the strategic allocation of funds, the college aims to preserve and enhance its facilities, expand the reach of healthcare services in the clinics and beyond campus, and champion financial inclusivity.

The campaign offers a way for the ICCs to help address financial disparities in access to healthcare services. Portions of the funds could be allocated to defray costs for those who may struggle to pay for services, aligning with the University’s commitment to inclusivity. By ensuring financial accessibility, COH strives to make healthcare services available to all, irrespective of economic challenges.

The ICCs seek to facilitate more outreach efforts, allowing them to meet people where they are and remove or reduce barriers that may hinder community members from seeking healthcare on campus. Although ICCs make visiting their clinics effortless by offering easy access and ample parking, its leadership hopes that making their clinical services mobile and participating in local events and health fairs extends the reach of ICCs’ services.

“Much of this planning is already in progress,” said Dr. Blair Mattern, ’06 AUD ’10, associate dean for clinical affairs, “but we hope to raise $5 million to provide more health assessments, screenings, and education in the community, which would allow the ICCs to see an additional 500 patients annually. This funding would also allow us to update essential equipment and deliver top-tier services imperative to student success and quality, ensuring accessible healthcare to the community we serve.” 

Counseling Practicum Clinic:

Provides services to adults, children, adolescents, couples, families, and groups for:



Career counseling

Health and chronic illness


LGBTQ+ affirmative care

PTSD and trauma


Stress management

Speech-Language Pathology Clinic: Diagnostic services

Clinical swallowing evaluation for dysphagia

Receptive and expressive language analysis, including assessing age-appropriate communication skills

Neurological deficits analysis such as memory, cognitive-linguistic, and executive function

Fluency analysis: stuttering/cluttering and rate control

Voice evaluations, instrumentation analysis, and video stroboscopy (a tiny camera to view vocal cords)

Rehab services

Fluency/stuttering/cluttering and speaking rate; strategies to produce fluent speech

Language therapy—including language processing, literacy, receptive/expressive language, etc.

Aural rehabilitation: language/vocabulary and lip reading

Voice: gender-affirming treatment, professional voice management, volume control, etc.

Healthy Lifestyle Center:

Professional wellness assessments

Access to dieticians, exercise physiologists, health educators, and social workers

Complimentary services to, and in support of, the individual’s personal healthcare provider’s services

WE FLY / Spring 2024 43 42 Ball State University Alumni Magazine

College of Sciences and Humanities

From High School to Ball State

Jump Start program helps students transition to college life

Kennedi Morgan looked forward to starting her college career at Ball State University. But, like many freshmen nationwide, she found the thought of transitioning from high school to college life a bit daunting.

“I thought college was going to be pretty lonely,” Ms. Morgan said. “I knew there would be other students coming in from their high schools, but the University is a bigger space than a high school. I thought it would be hard to make connections with other people.”

Ms. Morgan’s concerns were quickly eased, thanks largely to her participation in Jump Start, Ball State’s first-year transition program. Each of Ball State’s seven academic colleges plans a unique Jump Start experience that focuses on aspects of their areas of study. The goal is to help students achieve a successful start to their first year at Ball State. Jump Start, which began in 2022, is held in the Summer prior to the start of the students’ first year. There are usually 30 students in each cohort.

Majoring in Geology—a discipline within Ball State’s College of Sciences and Humanities (CSH)—Ms. Morgan attended CSH’s Jump Start held in the Summer of 2023.

“With Jump Start, it was very easy for students to talk to each other and share this common experience. Everyone was probably scared, or nervous about finding classes, and things like that. This program gave us an outlet to connect to one another and move past the fear or nervousness,”

Ms. Morgan said.

Jump Start is part of Ball State’s Summer Bridge, a series of co-curricular programs and services meant to support and engage the University’s incoming first-year students in their transition to college. Funding from the Our Call to Beneficence campaign will further strengthen these programs.

How CSH’s Jump Start Helps Students

CSH’s Jump Start is primarily an academic experience, with students living on campus, eating in the dining halls, attending classes taught by CSH faculty, and having the opportunity for some out-of-classroom educational experiences—plus opportunities for a few social activities, said CSH Associate Dean Dr. Patrick Collier.

“The idea is to give our students an immersive three-day kind of dry run at being a college student,” he added.

Toward the end of the program, there’s a meeting at which faculty help students synthesize what they’ve learned in the classes. Students are provided with thinking prompts to work on together in groups, followed by a debriefing period for the entire group. Also during this meeting, the students are invited to discuss what they learned in the program about being a college student.

“Our Jump Start’s components and structure are important because they immerse students into college life— specifically in the ways in which it’s different from high school life,” Dr. Collier explained. “The students have to wake up each day and get themselves to class. They have to

be able to navigate campus. They have to figure out all these little sorts of ‘everyday life’ aspects of being a college student. Another important point: the emphasis in the classes we teach is on college-style, active learning.”

Offering Lessons Outside the Classroom

CSH’s Jump Start is strong on out-of-theclassroom learning. For example, the Summer 2023 cohort spent time at Hults Farm in Delaware County, where the students learned about wetlands, ecosystems, food production, food insecurity, and food deserts.

“And the students helped load the truck with food for delivery to the low-cost farmers market (Ball State) Professor Josh Gruver runs in downtown Muncie,” Dr. Collier said.

In addition to making valuable connections with faculty and other Ball State students during the CSH’s Summer 2023 Jump Start program, freshman Josie Pressnall—who’s majoring in Political Science and English—said she especially enjoyed learning with her peers at the farm.

“CSH’s Jump Start program broadened my perspective of college as something to be enjoyed and meandered through as I learn things I wasn’t expecting to learn.”

“Through this program, I was exposed to lectures on STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) matters,” Ms. Pressnall said. “CSH’s Jump Start program broadened my perspective of college as not just a means to the end of getting a degree, but something to be enjoyed … as I learn things I wasn’t expecting to learn.”

CSH is interested in expanding its Jump Start program in numerous ways in the future, extending the experience to more students and potentially making it even more robust academically, Dr. Collier said.

Six CSH faculty members participated in the first two CSH Jump Start sessions. The 2023 group included Dr. Petra Zimmermann, associate professor of geography; Dr. Jessi Haeft, associate professor of natural resources and director of the Ball State Student Farm; Dr. Ellen Whitehead, assistant professor of sociology; and Dr. Sreyoshi Sarkar, assistant professor of English. The 2022 group was Dr. Kevin Harrelson, professor of philosophy; Dr. Gen Mager, assistant teaching professor of biology; Dr. Zimmermann; and Dr. Whitehead. 

Environmental Education Center (JHELC) with CSH’s Jump Start students.

Opposite page: CSH’s Jump Start students examine soil samples from the wetland at Ball State’s Hults Farm after learning about soil science and wetland delineation from Dr. Jessi Haeft, associate professor of natural resources and environmental management.

WE FLY / Spring 2024 45 44 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Above: Dr. Joshua Gruver, associate professor of natural resources and environmental management, shares the history of the Juanita Hults — Ball State freshman Josie Pressnall Photos courtesy of CSH

R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning

Around the World

International travel gives Ball State students experiences of a lifetime

Few experiences can transform a student like seeing the world and being immersed in other cultures. Gaining a global perspective can enrich students’ lives. And, for those enrolled in the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (ECAP), different perspectives can add complexity and depth to their designs and planning.

Troy Thompson, ’90, remembers his student travel experiences fondly, especially his time on the 1985 Polyark venture, led by ECAP Dean David Ferguson, ’78, a professor at the time.

“We spent the term living in England and traveled around the continent while still taking classes,” Mr. Thompson said. “Being able to travel when I was a student at Ball State changed my life.”

The trip was a pivotal moment in Mr. Thompson’s college experience. But when he returned to campus, he had to take a year off from school, secure extra loans, and save money in order to finish college.

That experience inspired Mr. Thompson, now the managing partner at the architecture and planning firm SmithGroup, to develop CAP Around the World—a travel fund that covers out-of-pocket costs for future planners and designers to participate in domestic and international field trips.

In addition, preference is given to first-generation students and students from underrepresented groups.

“Ball State provides a lot of great opportunities,” Mr. Thompson said. “But for a lot of the students who go to Ball State, they may not have the means to take advantage of them.”

Travel has been at the heart of the ECAP’s curriculum since its inception more than 50 years ago. Mr. Ferguson, who became the college’s dean in 2019, knows from experience how being fully immersed in other cultures can provide students with transformative experiences.

“When I talk to alums around the country who have participated in the world tour, or if they’ve done some other significant international travel, they tell me those are the best dollars they’ve spent in their educational process because it totally changed them as people and designers,” he said.

CAP Around the World is a fund that has grown through the years, joining the John and Ingrid Russell Fund for Immersive Travel Experiences as opportunities for ECAP students to experience life outside of Ball State.

Through these funds, the college is aiming to lower the barriers to travel for as many students as possible.

Mr. Thompson, who was a first-generation student, knows how impactful these funds can be for students at Ball State.

“This fits the spirit of what the CAP program is about,” he said. “With so much travel built into the program, it helps kids, who may have never left Indiana before, to go and have experiences they wouldn’t have elsewhere.

“I think it relates to the bigger legacies and ideas that Ball State has always been about,” Mr. Thompson added. “And think it sets the college up for trying to do some things that are unique as to how they want to train architects and related disciplines that a lot of other programs don’t do.”

When Dean Ferguson was a student at Ball State, he said he was not able to take advantage of travel opportunities provided by the college, “so to be able to lower the barriers and make the funds more accessible for all students is meaningful in a personal way, as well as being part of our philosophy at the college.”

Nearly 800 of ECAP’s approximately 1,200 students take part in some form of travel each year domestically. Almost 100 students take part in international travel each Summer, and as many as about 30 students at a time have taken the world tour when it has been offered.

With students traveling worldwide, a range of career paths, like city planning or interior design, are showcased in many ways.

“The real beauty of travel is wherever you go, particularly overseas, you’re going to land in a culture where people see their world somewhat differently,” said Dean Ferguson. “They have different materials that they’re designing. They have different cultural attitudes, as well as cultural habits, that cause design to happen and planning to happen differently. That is an ‘Aha!’ moment that you can’t replicate any other way.”

The end goal, Dean Ferguson said, is to have every ECAP student go on a trip.

“If a student is coming through and they still can’t travel simply because of money, we want that storyline to go away. We really want to be able to say 100 percent of the students who are able to travel are traveling,” he added. “We know that they will be more enriched, have more meaningful lives and more impactful and powerful careers if they get that travel experience while they’re here. So, we’re really working hard to make that happen.” 

WE FLY / Spring 2024 47 46 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
This page: Students from the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (ECAP) pose for a photo during a recent trip to Rome, Italy, as part of the CAP Around the World international field trip. Opposite page: Students from ECAP pose for a photo during a recent venture to Thailand as part of the CAPAsia field trip. Photos courtesy of ECAP

Miller College of Business

SOARing to Success

Program transforms undergraduates, provides mentorships

Abby Miller entered Ball State University as a Business Administration major but was unsure of her choice.

That was until she took advantage of the Miller College of Business’s transformative program called SOAR (Success, Opportunity, Acumen, and Readiness).

“Because of SOAR, I’ve learned so much about myself, which was so helpful as an incoming student,” said Ms. Miller, who is now a junior. “Because of a speaker we had, I changed my major within the first two weeks of classes to Human Resources Management. There were so many things about Human Resources Management that lined up for me personally, and I don’t know if I would have had that interaction and lightbulb moment without SOAR.”

Offered as a required program to Miller College of Business (MCOB) undergraduates and overseen by an eight-member advisory board of business professionals, leaders, and mentors from Ball State and the Muncie community, SOAR consists of three one-semester courses

intended to give students a competitive edge in the workforce. These courses—Introduction to Miller College and the World of Business, Job Search Skills, and Transition to the Professions—are taken during each of a student’s first three years of study.

Each year of this curriculum is designed to build on the previous year’s experiences, culminating in students developing a secure professional identity by their senior year. The program is consistently evaluated, ensuring alignment with industry needs.

SOAR connects students with campus life, encouraging them to join clubs and become involved within MCOB. The subsequent years shift the focus towards career exploration and professional development, preparing students for success in the job market. The program was initiated to boost student success and alumni engagement, emphasizing its role in offering valuable skills for students to become well-rounded professionals.

Dr. Joel Whitesel, ’89 MBA ’90, MCOB’s director of student retention and success, oversees the SOAR program and has seen a positive impact since its inception in Fall 2020.

“One of the hindrances we see in student retention is the sense of belonging,” Dr. Whitesel said. “SOAR addresses this with its efforts to increase student success and engagement. And we’re always looking for more real-world experiences and opportunities for students to learn.”

Throughout the program, students engage in various activities, including connecting with a mentor, participating in community service, securing internships, and attending professional conferences. These activities complement the skills learned in the classroom. The program also includes self- and career exploration activities, online assessments, guidance on time management, study skills, and topics on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As part of the Our Call to Beneficence campaign, the University aims to secure $2 million in funding to further enrich student programs like SOAR. Campaign funding will expand scholarship support through SOAR, ensuring that

financial constraints do not restrict students from participating in the offerings provided in this transformative program. Funding will also enable the creation of additional opportunities and experiences through the SOAR program, such as student travel to visit alumni and business leaders on a broader national and international scope.

The involvement of Ball State graduate business mentors is another key aspect of SOAR—which received the inaugural Ball State University Foundation’s Mentoring Program of the Year Award in Fall 2023—providing students with valuable, life-changing immersive experiences.

“A distinguishing characteristic of a Miller College of Business education is that every student gets a mentor,” said Dr. Cathy DuBois, dean of MCOB. “This is not just any mentor. We match each student with a Miller College alum who is thriving in a job related to the student’s major. Through their interactions and conversations, a student not only develops professional skills but also gains insights into the career that awaits following graduation.

“Mentorship is typically not provided in undergraduate programs as large as ours,” Dean DuBois continued. “Our uniquely broad and deep alumni base makes this possible. Generous donor funding will allow us to expand the variety of mentorship interactions and professional development events, both in person and virtual.”

Feedback from students indicates that the SOAR program enhances their understanding of different majors and strengthens their connection to MCOB. Students appreciate the program’s experiential approach, which includes expert guest speakers, a business etiquette dinner, and assessment tests to align majors with their interests. The program aims to prevent students from reaching their senior year only to realize they have no interest in working in a job related to the major they chose.

The testimonials from students highlight the positive impact of the SOAR program on their academic and professional journeys and stand out as a comprehensive initiative that not only prepares them for the workforce but also fosters a sense of pride and accomplishment. 

WE FLY / Spring 2024 49 48 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Above: SOAR program Director Dr. Joel Whitesel (center) meets with MCOB students. SOAR provides students with immersive opportunities such as connecting with a mentor, community service, internships, and attending professional conferences, all steps that allow them to become well-rounded professionals ready for the next step in life. Photos by Samantha Blankenship, ’15

Making Dreams Come True

Significant gift from 1981 graduate Michelle (Asby) Ryan and husband, Jim, supports first-generation teaching majors

As a 17-year-old high school junior, Michelle (Asby) Ryan had a decision to make.

She knew she wanted to attend college, and she knew she had a passion for education. Unfortunately, none of the institutions she had explored to that point seemed to click for her.

So, in what she now jokingly refers to as a “rare moment of maturity” for a student her age, she arranged a meeting with the superintendent of her Illinois school district, hoping to come away with some clarity about her situation.

His advice, it turned out, was unequivocal.

“Without any hesitation, he looked at me and said, ‘You need to go to Ball State,’” Ms. Ryan recalled. “So, I came and looked at Ball State. And it clicked.”

“I started to realize that these kids just need a chance. They need good teachers, and they just need a chance,” she said.

Mr. Ryan added: “These kids in our program, they come to Ball State with many challenges. Almost all of them have high financial needs. They’re working at home to provide some income for their family. They’re driving siblings back and forth to school, helping them with homework, and doing a lot of other things around the house to help. When they leave home and they come to school, they don’t just leave those challenges at home.

“Getting a college education, to me, it means a lot more, because growing up, I didn’t know if I could go to college.”

After a fulfilling experience at Ball State, Ms. Ryan graduated in 1981 with a double major in Elementary Education and Special Education. Her career path then led her into the corporate world, but she never lost her passion for teaching, or her love of her alma mater.

In late 2020, Michelle and her husband, Jim Ryan, made a $1.45 million commitment—the largest single gift in the history of Ball State’s Teachers College—to establish the Ryan Family Scholars and Navigator Program.

One key part of the funding supports the Michelle A. and James T. Ryan Family Scholarship, which covers all costs for approximately 16 Ryan Scholars during a seven-year period. Just as important, however, is the creation of the Ryan Family Navigator Program. This hub provides comprehensive student support services to all teaching majors, particularly those who are the first in their families to attend college and/ or who have financially challenging backgrounds.

Ms. Ryan said her experiences as a substitute teacher and tutor at an inner-city school in Chicago inspired this key mission of the Ryan Family Scholars and Navigator Program.

“But now they have to deal with those challenges from a distance,” he continued. “And most of them are first-generation college students who show up on campus in a very unfamiliar environment. They really need a support system.”

One of those students, Bryan (Alex) Vivas, couldn’t believe his eyes when he received an initial email with information about the Ryan Family Scholars and Navigator Program.

Thinking the opportunity was too good to be true, he “wrote it off” at first. But his intrigue eventually got the best of him, and he did a bit more digging.

“Then I was still, even after learning about it, like, ‘This can’t be real. People don’t just get opportunities to chase their dreams,’” he recalled.

However, once Mr. Vivas was accepted into the first cohort of the Ryan Family Scholars in Fall 2021, he began to fully realize the opportunity in front of him.

“You learn how this program is about helping other people,” said Mr. Vivas, a junior Secondary English Education major. “Now we have the opportunity to truly chase what we want to do and not be burdened by anything besides our studies, our dreams, and our goals.”

That brings a smile to the face of Ms. Ryan, who through a bit of her own serendipity, found her way to Ball State more than four decades ago. She said she feels blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to make an impact on our brightest future educators, taught in an institution in which diversity and support for all students are paramount.

“The Teachers College here is a very special place, and the faculty here is phenomenal,” Ms. Ryan said. “The programs that they have, the research that they do, are just very top-notch, which sets it apart from many other teachers colleges within other universities. So that was one of the main reasons that we decided to come back to Ball State and put the scholarship together.

“But secondly, as we walk the halls, we notice that many professors have signs up in their offices that say, ‘I’m first-gen.’ So, it is very clear to me that these faculty members have a great relationship with their students. And, if you are a first-generation student, there’s a professor you could go and talk to who had your same experience. And that is really important to us.” 

WE FLY / Spring 2024 51 50 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Teachers College
— Isaiah Kimp, Secondary Social Studies Education major and Ryan Family Scholar The first cohort of the Ryan Family Scholars program pose for a picture with donors Michelle, ’81, and Jim Ryan and Teachers College faculty and staff. From left to right: Andrea Flores; Dr. Kendra Lowery, associate dean for equity and engagement; Isaiah Kimp; Amaree Burks; Dr. Anand Marri, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; Mrs. and Mr. Ryan; Jalen Chandler; Dr. John Anderson, MA ’16 EDD ’21, director of the Ryan Family Navigators program; Bryan (Alex) Vivas; Kiara Johnson, doctoral assistant; Isabella (Izzy) Fuentes; and Rebecca Gold, doctoral assistant. Jim and Michelle Ryan, ’81 Photo courtesy of Teachers College

Honors College

Transforming Students Through Innovative Experiences

Studying abroad one of many opportunities Honors College provides students with life-changing experiences

When Ball State University’s Honors College was formed in 1959, it was founded on an ambitious premise—to recruit and empower students who are highly motivated, curious, and intellectually engaged.

Through the last 60-plus years, these students have helped raise the University’s profile through their academic achievements, leading them to careers that change the world.

Students in the Honors College have access to enriched and enhanced opportunities, such as challenging research fellowships with faculty members, internships with nonprofit organizations, and working on community-based projects.

“It says a lot about the motivation and engagement of our students on this campus who are asking to have these kinds of experiences,” said Dr. Jim Buss, dean of the Honors College. “I think it’s why Immersive Learning and those

hands-on experiences work so well at this institution. This is at the core of the philosophy and mission of Ball State, which attracts students who have that desire to engage in that kind of work.”

One student who has received a transformative experience is Angel Esquivel Vazquez, a second-year Biology major and Chemistry minor. During his first year on campus, Mr. Vazquez—who is also a first-generation student—sought out an opportunity to expand his education.

“I’m very interested in being in medicine,” Mr. Vazquez said. “I’m not so worried about being a physician, but I really want to help people because I was born with a heart issue of my own. Being able to help those who are similar to me or have had an issue like mine is something that I’m really passionate about.”

After seeking counsel from faculty in the Honors College, Mr. Vazquez found an opportunity to spend the Summer at the University of Limerick, a research institution located in Ireland.

While abroad, Mr. Vazquez took a module called “Developing Self as a Healthcare Practitioner,” and while he learned different healthcare practices, he said he took away something much more valuable in the process.

“It was a lot less about the very hard math and science that I’m very used to, and it was more about making yourself a better person in order to be patient and be responsive for

“I didn’t start with anything, and I was able to go have a first-class experience in Ireland completely free. Ball State students can do anything because they have everything here.”

those people that you’re helping,” Mr. Vazquez said. “I learned different strategies for time management, self-care, and various ways to handle the stressful situations that happen while working in medicine.”

Through funding and scholarships Mr. Vazquez received from the Honors College, his trip cost him nothing.

Mr. Vazquez is one of many success stories from the Honors College—students who have had life-changing experiences. But the need to help make similar experiences available to more students is greater than it ever has been.

“Nearly 34 percent of our enrollment consists of Pelleligible students,” Dean Buss said. “Experiences like Angel’s are made possible by the great donor support we have for our undergraduate fellows.”

Just this past academic year, the Honors College welcomed 435 students in a freshman class on the path to fulfilling careers and meaningful lives.

“I’m always amazed at the number of students who want to take advantage of that program to expand their education, study abroad, and study way beyond the footprint of this campus,” Dean Buss said.

Through his transformative experience, Mr. Vazquez has a completely new outlook on his time at Ball State.

“Studying abroad wasn’t on my radar when I first got to Ball State, but through opportunities that learned from the faculty in the Honors College, I was able to have a unique experience that I don’t think you can find anywhere else,” Mr. Vazquez said. “I think I found a lot of myself when I was over there and the kind of person am. This trip set me up for success for not only my career, but for the rest of my life.” 

WE FLY / Spring 2024 53 52 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Ball State University first-generation student Angel Esquivel Vazquez had a life-changing experience with a trip to Ireland over the Summer. Mr. Vazquez had his trip completely paid for through funding and scholarships, enabling him to study different healthcare practices at the University of Limerick. Photo by Bobby Ellis, ’13


Building for the Future

Ball State Athletics advances plans for ‘transformational’ Championship Performance Center

Before most people have had their first cup of coffee in the morning, Ball State University student-athletes have already gone through one of the most critical components in their daily pursuit of competitive development— a dynamic strength and conditioning session in the weight room.

All of this takes place six days a week inside Worthen Arena in a room surrounded by mirrors, where the Cardinals transform their bodies to help take their performances to the next level.

Even after achieving record program heights in 2022-23, the hunger and drive are still there for Ball State Athletics. And that has led to the pursuit of a new Championship Performance Center facility that will help student-athletes thrive—and win—for years to come.

Plans to make the facility a reality took a major step forward when Eric Foss, ’80, committed a lead gift of $4 million toward the $7.8 million facility. Mr. Foss—a native Hoosier, former executive at Pepsi Bottling Group, and former chief executive officer of Aramark— earned his degree in Marketing from the Miller College of Business. He joined the Ball State Foundation Board of Directors in 2021.

“We are grateful for Eric’s generosity,” Director of Athletics Jeff Mitchell said. “Eric has a legacy of enriching organizations and leading them to record growth, and his impact on our student-athletes will have a similar transformational influence as they pursue a new level of excellence in our Championship Performance Center.”

While Mr. Foss’ contribution advances the Center, additional need for philanthropic support remains. Mr. Mitchell, and his department’s 19 sports programs, 50 full-time coaches, and

approximately 430 student-athletes, want everyone who supports the Cardinals to understand the need.

“It will be a transformational facility for Ball State Athletics,” Mr. Mitchell said. “For us to sustain success, we’re creating spaces and programs which will adequately prepare our student-athletes for competition.”

Like many buildings at Ball State’s campus, this structure will be impressive in its features and will stand out in a prime location adjacent to Worthen Arena and the Dr. Don Shondell Practice Center.

The building will feature a state-of-the-art weight room with new equipment to meet industry standards. Some areas will highlight a variety of workouts, like cardio, calisthenics, and plyometrics, and a turf strip will allow student-athletes to work on speed, power, and quickness.

“We envision this building to be more than 10,000 square feet in size,” Mr. Mitchell said. “It will triple the space that we have now and will predominately serve 18 of our 19 programs, with football having its own facility.”

Combined with the structured workout plans, the Championship Performance Center will support the department’s mission of helping student-athletes grow and develop. Aniya Kennedy, a Dietetics and Nutrition major and standout member of the women’s volleyball team, understands the benefits of what this facility will provide.

“This is a step in the right direction for Ball State in order to help get athletes here and then help them become stronger and faster,” said Ms. Kennedy, the 2023 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Freshman of the Year and a First Team All-MAC honoree.

In addition to this new facility enhancing the Cardinals’ strength and conditioning efforts, plans call for a transformation of the current Worthen Arena workout space into a “state-of-the-art sports medicine center,” according to Mr. Mitchell. This reimagined area will also double the space of the current sports medicine facilities and include hydrotherapy equipment and more rehabilitation areas.

“We aspire to completely transform the experience for our studentathletes when it comes to championship performance,” Mr. Mitchell said. “The more we can include championship in our vernacular, the more successful we can be. We operate with a growth mindset around here, and I’m really excited about this project.” 

“It will be a transformational facility for Ball State Athletics. For us to sustain success, we’re going to have to have a place that will adequately prepare our athletes for competition.”

New spaces will relieve scheduling stress, improve care

As Ball State University’s director of strength and conditioning for Olympic sports, Jason Roberson and his staff work with 18 of the University’s 19 intercollegiate sports in the current weight room located in the halls of Worthen Arena.

In the current setup, Mr. Roberson and staff do their best to accommodate each team and hundreds of athletes in the roughly 3,400 square-foot space.

“The biggest issue we face is the team size,” he said. “We have several teams that have well over 20 athletes, and we just don’t have enough space in our room right now to house more than one team at a time.

“Having a larger space would allow us to hold two teams at a time for workouts. That really helps with our scheduling.”

The new Championship Performance Center will also enable athletes the ability to come in on their own time, especially if they have an internship or are pursuing an off-campus opportunity.

“Trying to schedule around practice times and class schedules is really difficult,” Mr. Roberson said. “For our athletes who are Nursing majors, for example, they can come in whenever they need in order to get that time in without having to work around another team.”

The same sentiment can be echoed by the athletic trainers in the sports medicine department, who also serve 18 of Ball State’s 19 sports inside Worthen Arena at the Sayers “Bud” Miller Athletic Training Facility.

“It can be hard to function at times with our current space,” said Shawn Comer, MS ’92, director of sports medicine. “With a larger space, we won’t have to work around everybody’s schedule and have teams come in at different times of the day.”

As part of the two-step process, the new, expanded spaces will also provide more room for additional equipment, such as hydrotherapy pools and weight racks, to better serve each athlete.

“With the ability to practice more modern techniques and the use of state-of-the-art equipment, we will be able to provide different rehabilitation methods to help our athletes heal faster and return to competition,” Mr. Comer said. “This will be huge for us.”

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Photo courtesy of Ball State Athletics Photo by Bobby Ellis, ’13

Next Big Step

Cardinal baseball, softball look to turn ‘dream’ facility project into reality

I n recent years, Ball State University baseball and softball fans have undoubtedly noticed a series of upgrades and renovations at the First Merchants Ballpark Complex. From 2014-16, these changes at both Ball Diamond for baseball and the softball field included the installation of FieldTurf playing surfaces, new dugouts, new concession stands, and updated graphics showing off the programs’ rich history of success, which includes 16 conference titles for baseball— most recently in 2023—and 15 for softball.

Now the two programs are preparing for the next big step forward for their respective facilities, highlighted by the construction of on-site locker rooms. Currently, the baseball and softball programs use locker rooms facilities located at Worthen Arena, a 1.4-mile drive from their fields.

“As we continue to develop our baseball and softball programs to enjoy sustainable success, we are fortunate to have generous donors who would like to see this project come to fruition,” Ball State Director of Athletics Jeff Mitchell said. “The idea—at minimum—is to build a locker room that attaches to both the baseball and softball home dugouts along their respective third-base lines. That will provide the opportunity for our student-athletes to prepare for practice and competition on site. I want our student-athletes to transition from student to athlete and athlete to student at

their site of competition, as opposed to having to go from one venue to the next.

“This has been a shared vision to help directly benefit student-athletes in both sports.”

Rich Maloney, who begins his 19th season as Ball State’s head baseball coach this Spring, is looking forward to seeing the facility improvements come to fruition.

“In fairness to our program, our tradition, and everything that we’ve done through all of the success that we’ve had, this is a big step that needs to be taken, and we’re thrilled about the direction we’re heading,” Coach Maloney said. “This has been a dream for a lot of us for a long time.”

The facility project will also serve as a boon for the Cardinals in terms of player development and recruiting, according to first-year head softball coach Helen Peña.

“I think this alone is going to attract some high-level recruits,” she said.

For Coach Peña, the project is a strong example of University administration showing its support of two sports programs that have dominated on the diamond.

“There’s such a rich history here that was attractive to me, including the history of what the alumni have built,” she said. “It’s important to show them we’re still trying to move forward.” 

Championing Excellence

Ball State sets ambitious athletic goals, invests in success

When Jeff Mitchell was introduced as Ball State University’s director of athletics in February 2023, he issued a challenge to all of his head coaches.

“We are going to thrive,” Mr. Mitchell told them. “We are in the development business, and I want to develop leaders and winners. I want to dominate the Mid-American Conference and be the most comprehensively excellent athletic department in the MAC.”

During Mr. Mitchell’s first few months on the job, the Cardinals were awarded the Jacoby Trophy, presented annually by the conference to the school whose women’s teams win first place in the league’s cumulative standings. In addition, Ball State’s men’s teams finished second in the 2022-23 standings, their best finish since 2013, giving the University its best-combined results since 2001.

In total, the Cardinals won six different conference championships and advanced to 11 postseason tournaments in 2022-23.

“We want to sustain that success, but it is going to require resources to do that,” Mr. Mitchell said. “Our resources must match expectations. I don’t want last year to be a flash in the pan. It needs to be something that we can recreate year after year, but it takes some resources to do that. The cost of doing business is increasing.”

Mr. Mitchell has adopted a strategic approach to better aid sports programs in their pursuit of conference titles—an effort that has involved a reorganization of his administrative team. He has even established a brand-new area referred to as “Championship Performance,” which encompasses everything that influences the student-athlete’s overall health and best prepares them to compete at a championship level.

Identifying other key championship resources has also included investing in the level of coaching, programming, and training for student-athletes

before they step foot on their respective fields or courts of competition.

“We want to develop best-in-class championship performance and empower our student-athletes to perform at their best,” Mr. Mitchell said.

There’s also an “operational” aspect for Mr. Mitchell and the Cardinals to maintain their level of success.

“We want to invest in our student-athletes so they can get stronger and faster, while at the same time investing in the operational side of competition,” he said. “For example, we have some teams taking vans to competition when buses would be a healthier and safer alternative. We also want to enhance opportunities for proper nutrition that is required to meet the necessary caloric intake of student-athletes and promote healthy recovery—anything that requires fueling our students to thrive at their optimal performance.”

If the 2022-23 season is any indication, the Cardinals are well on their way to achieving their lofty goals to fly even higher.

“We don’t put limits on things that we can accomplish together,” Mr. Mitchell said. 

WE FLY / Spring 2024 57 56 Ball State University Alumni Magazine
Jacoby Trophy Photo by Don Rogers, ’77

Ball State Alumni and Friends,

I am excited to provide you with an update on the Our Call to Beneficence campaign. Most importantly, we have raised more than $275 million toward our $350 million goal, which makes this the largest campaign in Ball State’s history.

While the numbers themselves are impressive, we continue to hear about and see the incredible impact our gifts are having on students, faculty, staff, and the community.

Some of you have heard my Ball State story—one that had me on the verge of dropping out after my junior year of college. The bottom line is that I had run out of funds and planned to take a break from school to work construction to earn enough to return to complete my degree.

When I went in to see J.B. Black, then dean of the Miller College of Business, he listened and asked me to delay my decision for a few days to see if he could help. I agreed, and, the next week, Dean Black summoned me back to his office to share that they had cobbled together additional aid that enabled me to come back and finish on time.

Unaware of the statistics highlighting the challenges faced by those who leave college without a degree, I could have easily contributed to those low numbers if not for the intervention of Dean Black and the University’s support.

There are many, many stories like mine at Ball State where a concerned faculty or staff member, coach, or graduate has made all the difference in the education—and future—of a Ball State student.

This is why I agreed to serve as chair of this campaign and why my wife, Cindy, and I have continued to invest philanthropically in Ball State, despite living in California. We have found the University to be a place where we can have a personal and deep impact through our giving, which believe is true for all our donors.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this dedicated issue of the Ball State Alumni Magazine, shining a spotlight on the campaign. More importantly, I hope you’ve discovered programs of interest and heard stories of philanthropy that inspire you to join us in our mission.

Whatever your personal philanthropic motivations might be, am grateful for and look forward to how you answer the question, “What is my Call to Beneficence?”


Beneficence Celebrated

Stephon W. Jones ’85, Indianapolis, and his wife, Denise Pearson ’84, were among more than 600 alumni in attendance at the Our Call to Beneficence kickoff event—a celebration of the launch of the most ambitious fundraising campaign in Ball State’s history. Mr. Jones is president of the Ball State Black Alumni Council and serves as a mentor for students in the Miller College of Business’ SOAR program.


James R. Beckett, ’60, Vacaville, Calif., who was a quarter-miler on the Ball State University track team, recently achieved national recognition by breaking existing power walking records for men 85-89 in two separate competitions. Mr. Beckett broke the National Senior Games records in the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter power walks at the National Senior Games Championships in Pittsburgh, and also the 1,500-meter and 3,000-meter power walks at the 2023 Huntsman World Senior Games Championships in St. George, Utah. He has been power walking since 2019.

Don L. Park, ’61 MA ’62, Muncie, was awarded the Order of the Golden Heart, the highest honor for Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni in recognition of over 30 years of service to the fraternity. Mr. Park is a Ball State professor emeritus, and in 2007, a residence hall, Park Hall, was named in his honor at the University.


Dennis R. Eller, ’70 MAE ’76, Fort Wayne, Ind., published his first book, “A Life Worth Living: The Tragedies, Trials, and Triumphs of Terry Ann Fillio.” The book recounts the compelling story of Mr. Eller’s cousin, who was paralyzed from the neck down after contracting polio as a young girl.

Sr. Luigi Mary Frigo, MAE ’71, Fond du Lac, Wis., is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Agnes in Wisconsin. Sr. Frigo earned her master’s degree in Elementary Education.

John M. Dierdorf, ’74, Fishers, Ind., had a full exhibit, Floral Celebration, on display for the month of September 2023 in the Meyer Najem second-floor gallery in Fishers as one of the four artists of the month recognized by Nickel Plate Arts.

Terry R. Schmidt (center), ’74, Erwin, Tenn., traveled with two other dentists and twenty dental students to Jamaica. In four clinic days, 531 dental patients were treated. Dr. Schmidt has been traveling to numerous countries since his graduation, providing dental care for the citizens of other countries who cannot afford dental care.

WE FLY / Spring 2024 59 58 Ball State University Alumni Magazine FROM THE CAMPAIGN CHAIR CLASS NOTES
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Spring 2023 Commencement Photo by Samantha Blankenship, ’15

Allen L. Williams, ’73, Michigan City, Ind., who passed away in December 2023, was honored last year as a recipient of three major county and community awards: Strengthening Community through the United Way of LaPorte County; the Community Spirit Award from the Indiana Black Expo (Michigan City Chapter); and the Service and Leadership Award from the Michigan City Black History Committee. All of these awards were earned for his engagement and service to his community and his demonstrated efforts and commitment to achieving race equity. Mr. Williams remained active at Ball State after his graduation—providing more than 50 years of continued partnership by attending Homecomings, participating in groundbreakings, mentoring students, and lending his expertise. Mr. Williams, who was believed to have curated one of the largest private collections of African American history in the country, donated materials to University Libraries Archives and Special Collections and the Multicultural Center as part of a digital exhibit entitled “The Ball State University Multicultural Center: Ambassadors of Campus Inclusion and Diversity.” The collection consists of Black alumni photos, memorabilia, documents, papers, and videos that document the Multicultural Center’s history as far back as the late 1960s and the cultural and social changes of the time. In addition, he worked closely with the Department of History on its Black Alumni Oral History Project.

Kirby L. Whitacre, ’74 MA ’76, South Bend, Ind., is a retired teacher, coach, and athletic director. Mr. Whitacre spent two months volunteering with the organization United Planet in Chisinau, Moldova, working with refugees. He was assigned to a United Nations affiliate-sponsored refugee center and was able to spend some time in Ukraine before returning to the United States, where he continues to advise and assist refugees. He has also published three books: “Buddhism: a Westerner’s Compendium;” “The Spirit Traveler and the Northwest Indian Wars in the Ohio Country;” and “A Priest, A Dog and Small College Basketball.”

Debbie J. Robertson, ’75 MA ’86, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Sandra A. (Stepp) Frizzell ’79, Indianapolis, visited fellow alumni Terry J. Snyder, ’77, and Sheryl L. (Blaugher) Snyder, ’76, both of Castle Rock, Colo., and toured Ball Arena— home of the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and Colorado Mammoths.


Linda E. Minton, ’80, MAE ’84, Indianapolis, a retired educator, has published four military books about World War II and the Vietnam War. She has also written and published 11 children’s books featuring pets and rescue animals. Her children’s books have the themes of kindness, friendship, forgiveness, and differences.

Kim L. Anderson ’81, Murraysville, Pa., retired as an accounting professor from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, located in Indiana, Penn., after 32 years. She recently visited Ball State Professor Emeritus Dr. Paul Parkison, ’58 MA ’61, her Honors College thesis advisor and mentor.

David M. Owens, ’83, Greenwood, Ind., serves as the head chaplain at the Indianapolis International Airport. Also, for more than 20 years, he has been the coordinator for the Greenwood City Council’s Interfaith Invocation Ministry.

Nicholas E. Reed, ’95, Decatur, Ill., was inducted into the Decatur Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame. He competed on the men’s track and field team at Ball State.

Cambia Health Solutions in Portland, Ore., has hired Michael J. Rains, ’96, Seattle, as its next chief financial officer. Mr. Rains earned his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Ball State.

Jill M. Smith, ’96, Brentwood, Tenn., released her first published work, “Nature Unveiled: 40 Reflections on Experiencing God’s Creation,” through Dexterity Books.


Cindy L. Juntunen, ’89, Grand Forks, N.D., who earned a master’s degree from Ball State University in Pre-Counseling Psychology, was named the associate provost and dean of graduate studies and research at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB).


Brad M. Fischer, ’94, Brownsburg, Ind., has published a book called “The Sand Bucket List: Lessons for Living Life and Facing Death.” In his debut memoir, Mr. Fischer argues against the idea of creating a “bucket list”—a list of random activities and experiences that supposedly bring joy and purpose to life. Instead, he suggests a more practical and positive approach—a “sand bucket list.” This refers to a set of essential practices that we should strive to do as often and thoroughly as possible. A few of his stories are about his time as a student at Ball State.

Shawn H. Cosgrove, ’95, Muncie, and Patrick “Chris” Yeend, ’98, Manilla, Ind., who both earned degrees from Ball State in Criminal Justice, were recognized for 25 years of service with the Indiana State Police.

Aimee L. Pottkotter, ’13 MAR ’15, Fort Recovery, Ohio, was named as the new athletic director for Fort Recovery Schools. Ms. Pottkotter also won a Citizen of the Year award in 2022 from the Fort Recovery Chamber of Commerce for her extensive volunteer services in her community.

Annaelise “Annie” M. Vest, MA ’13, Owasso, Okla., was appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt as director of Oklahoma Emergency Management. Ms. Vest holds a master’s degree in Executive Development from Ball State and is an expert disaster mitigator.

Tony M. Kline ’01 MA ’03 PhD ’11, Auburn, Ind., was named vice president for academic affairs at Trine University. Mr. Kline joined Trine University in 2013 as an assistant professor and then became dean of the university’s Franks School of Education. Dr. Kline also worked as an elementary education teacher at The Orchard School in Indianapolis and was an assistant professor in Elementary Education at Ball State.

Jesse L. McClung, III., ’05, Noblesville, Ind., was named the men’s head basketball coach at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Before this appointment, beginning in the 2023-24 season, he had a successful six-year stint as associate head coach at Marian University. Mr. McClung also played basketball for Ball State while earning his degree in Communication Studies

Joseph L. Fonderoli ’06, Cicero, Ind., has been elevated from marketing assistant to vice president of operations for the Indianapolis Colts. Mr. Fonderoli earned his bachelor’s degree in Sports Administration.

In the podcast, “The Innovation Table,” host Edris Bemanian spoke with Karthicka Krishnasamy, ’07, Union City, Calif., senior vice president of merchandising operations for Michael’s, on her proficiency in simplifying complex ideas and how her strategies have helped her in her career. Ms. Krishnasamy earned her master’s in Information and Communication Sciences.

Michael F. Megyesi, MAE ’09 MA ’19, Valparaiso, Ind., was selected as the principal of New Buffalo Elementary and began his tenure in August 2023. He was most recently the principal of Clifford Pierce Middle School in Merrillville, Ind.


Dayna E. Colbert, ’12 MS ’13, Fishers, Ind., who earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Information and Communication Sciences, has been named the executive director for the Indiana Democratic Party.

of “Frozen: The Musical.” He discovered his love for performing in fourth grade when he joined the prestigious Indianapolis Children’s Choir and continued to be a member of the choir for nine years. After completing his Musical Theatre program at Ball State, he moved to New York to attend auditions. It was a memorable full-circle moment for him when the Frozen tour came to Clowes Hall in Indianapolis last Fall.


Maya R. Bird-Murphy, ’14, Chicago, was selected as a finalist for the 2023 Wheelwright Prize, a $100,000 grant from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design to support investigative approaches to contemporary architecture, with an emphasis on globally-minded research.

Ms. Bird-Murphy, founder of Mobile Makers, an award-winning non-profit organization bringing design and skillbuilding workshops to underrepresented communities, earned her bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Ball State.

Seth R. Jenkins, ’14, Pittsfield, Mass., who earned a master’s degree from Ball State University in Urban and Regional Planning, has been promoted to senior planner in the community planning program at Berkshire Regional Planning Commission in Massachusetts.

Evan M. Duff, ’17, New York, originally from Fishers, Ind., played the role of the Duke of Weselton in the touring production

Samantha G. Robbins, ’20, Indianapolis, a graduate of the College of Fine Arts, competed in her 10th Miss Indiana competition in June of 2023, where she placed fourth runner-up. She performed a tap dance routine for the talent portion of the competition. While still a student at the University, Ms. Robbins initiated a community service program called “Party Smarty: Breaking the Substance Abuse Cycle.” Her work with Party Smarty received first runner-up for the “Joy of Life Community Service Award” out of the 37 contestants. She continues to organize substance-free events in her community and will return to Miss Indiana for the 11th time this June as the current Miss Central Indiana 2024. Photo by David Manning, Official Miss Indiana Photographer

Tyler Ryan, ’20, Indianapolis, moved back home to Indiana to join FOX59 and CBS4 as a meteorologist, making his on-air debut on Nov. 30. He joins forces with fellow Cardinal Amber Hardwick, ’13—also a meteorologist at FOX59 and CBS4.

Andre Guimaraes, ’21, Carmel, Ind., produced “Two Soles,” a stop-motion short film about a shoe that tried to be an individual in a world of pairs. The film has toured several film festivals across the country. The film took several hundred hours of planning, animating, sound design, set design, score composition, and postproduction, with support from Ball State PBS. The film can be viewed on the platform Vimeo.

Former Ball State baseball standout pitcher Chayce M. McDermott, ’21, Alexandria, Ind., plays for the Baltimore Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, Bowie Baysox. Mr. McDermott, a fourth-round pick by the Houston Astros in the 2021 MLB Draft, was traded to the Orioles’ organization last July.

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