In a season of giving, we look back at some of the many ways gifts made a big difference for our Ball State community in 2020.

Scholarship program aids Indiana undergrads

The George and Frances Ball Foundation and Ball State University partnered to create an endowed scholarship initiative that will significantly increase financial assistance for undergraduate students from Indiana.

The George and Frances Ball Scholars Program also provides incentive for new donors to support Ball State students by matching each dollar raised by Ball State up to $5 million. The initiative is the largest single investment in student scholarship funding in the University’s history.

Ball State and the George and Frances Ball Foundation have collaborated on numerous projects since George A. Ball—one of five brothers who founded the University in 1918—and his wife, Frances, created a private organization in 1937 to extend the family’s commitment to the community. Learn more.

New performance space

Brown Family Amphitheater

The Brown Family Amphitheater conception

An outdoor performance and gathering space built in the heart of campus will be named after Charles W. Brown, a 1971 graduate of Ball State and a longtime donor.

The Brown Family Amphitheater recognizes Brown’s $2.8 million gift, after his initial $250,000 gift to design the performance space. It will be located between Park and Pruis Halls and between Noyer and Woodworth Complexes.

“The Brown Family Amphitheater will enable our art, music, theater, and dance programs to come together as never before,” said College of Fine Arts Dean Seth Beckman. “This new space will spark creativity and inspire partnerships for generations to come.”

Among his many contributions to Ball State, Brown was lead donor for the Charles W. Brown Planetarium, opened in 2014. Learn more.

History-making gift pays it forward

A $1.45 million commitment from a Ball State alumna and her husband represents the largest single gift in the history of Teachers College.

The Michelle A. and James T. Ryan Family Scholarship, the Ryan Family Navigators Program, and the Ryan Fellowship for Community-Engaged Teacher Preparation will assist students with diverse and economically-challenged backgrounds, providing them with financial assistance and comprehensive services.

“Both Jim and I feel it is really important to pay it forward and help others,” said Michelle, ’81. “The bottom line is that an opportunity for students from underserved communities to gain a solid education from a strong university like Ball State could really impact our future teachers in so many different ways.”  Learn more.

One big day for Ball State students

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and rapidly turned our lives upside down, many Ball State students unexpectedly found themselves in need of critical resources for living and learning.

For its annual One Ball State Day on April 7, the University shifted its fundraising efforts to focus solely on students’ needs. The result was record breaking and a demonstration of what happens when Cardinal Pride meets Beneficence.

Alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and students representing all 50 states and five countries contributed more than 6,322 gifts totaling nearly $530,000. Learn more.

The next One Ball State is scheduled for April 6, 2021.

Improving the first-year experience

As a result of a $2.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., Ball State University is developing a program to improve the experience of first-year students.

First-Year Flight is funded through a Lilly Endowment initiative to help Indiana’s colleges and universities improve efforts to prepare students for successful futures and strengthen the long-term financial sustainability of their institutions.

First-Year Flight is designed to increase Ball State’s retention rate and help keep students in school. Learn more.

Preparing tomorrow’s leaders

Ball State is enhancing efforts to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators for leadership roles by reimagining an existing center and creating a second one to focus on how organizations promote prosperity.

The institutes initiative received $5 million in grant funding from the Menard family and $1.55 million from the Charles Koch Foundation.

The University’s Miller College of Business recently introduced the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI)—derived from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise—to focus on helping learners become innovators and leaders, while the new Institute for the Study of Political Economy (ISPE) will study the role of economic and political institutions in promoting prosperity. Learn more.

Support for faculty scholarship

Making discoveries that improve lives and change the world, Ball State’s faculty are annually supported by millions of dollars of internal and external project funding. Funding highlights this year included:

Three professors received Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program awards. The U.S. Department of State initiative fosters exchanges of ideas and insights with more than 160 other countries.

Jennifer Erickson with students

Jennifer Erickson with students during a 2019 trip to the Bosnia-Herzegovina region.

With her Fulbright, Anthropology Professor Jennifer Erickson will conduct research and teach in Bosnia-Herzegovina during Spring semester 2021. Her study will examine life in the city of Zenica with a focus on everyday practices of its 115,00 residents during a rapid transformation as a result of the civil war that engulfed the region in the early 1990s. Learn more.

Michael T. Ndemanu, associate professor of multicultural education, is using his Fulbright to return to his native Cameroon to help strengthen the teacher education program at a university there. The goal is to better prepare the country’s K-12 teachers to deliver a quality education to Cameroon’s youth. Learn more.

Fulbright recipient Sergei Zhuk, professor of history, will lecture at Guangzhou University of Foreign Studies in China as part of a project called “Teaching Chinese Students of American Colonial History and Cultural Cold War in Comparative Historical Perspective.” Learn more.

Also in 2020, the Indiana Campus Compact (ICC) funded research projects from two Ball State faculty members through Faculty Fellows Program.

Kiesha Warren-Gordon, associate professor of criminal justice and criminology, will use her senior faculty fellowship to advance her project, peer mentoring faculty from across Indiana in the scholarship of engagement. Adam Kuban, associate professor of journalism, will create is a follow-up to his 2019 documentary, “Match Point: The Rise of Men’s Volleyball.” The sequel will chronicle efforts to build collegiate men’s volleyball teams at six historically black colleges and universities in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Learn more.

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