J. Richard “Dick” Emens, a longtime supporter of Ball State University and son of former Ball State President John R. Emens, has passed away. He was 89 years old.
Dick Emens served in a number of roles at Ball State, including on the Ball State University Foundation Board of Trustees, where he was board chair and chair of the Finance Committee. He also served as board chair and scholarship chair for the Ball State Bold capital campaign.
But Mr. Emens’ most passionate endeavor at Ball State was undoubtedly the Emens Leadership Scholarship program, which he created in 1976 after the passing of his father. According to Mr. Emens’ obituary:
“In 1977, 5 outstanding high school students each received a $150.00 scholarship. Dick served on the Emens Scholarship Committee for 29 years, during which time the number of annual Emens Leadership Scholars increased from 5 to 15 scholars per year, each with full 4-year tuition scholarships. …
Dick played an integral part in securing donations for the Emens Scholars Program and to date there are now 40 Emens Scholarships (Umbrella Funds) to benefit outstanding high school students hoping to attend Ball State University. With the continued assistance of Chris Vallo, Dick would send out over 200 letters each year to the scholars, their families, and donors, thanking each person for helping make the Emens Scholarship Program a success. Since 1977, there have been 316 Emens Scholars; each one (Dick) calls ‘family.’ Dick’s generosity and dedication help grown the Scholars Program because he cared deeply about helping form new leaders for the United States. He obtained immense satisfaction from watching the development of the young Emens Scholars’ leaders.”
In December, at Ball State’s Fall Commencement ceremony, Mr. Emens was recognized for his dedication to Ball State with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. His life, career, and love for Ball State was profiled in the Spring 2023 edition of the Ball State Alumni Magazine.
Mr. Emens was just a young boy in 1945 when his father, John, began his historic run as the sixth president of Ball State University.
From 1945 to 1968, President Emens presided over one of the greatest periods of growth in the University’s history. Over that 23-year run, student enrollment at Ball State increased from just more than 1,000 to 13,000, the institution earned university status from the Indiana General Assembly, and, under President Emens’ guidance, Ball State developed and executed its first long-range campus plan.
President Emens retired in 1968; he passed away eight years later. Today, one of Ball State’s most recognized landmarks, Emens Auditorium, bears his name.
In March 2022, Dick Emens joined current Ball State President and host Geoffrey S. Mearns for an episode of the podcast “Our Call to Beneficence,” in which the two discussed the Emens legacy, the Emens Scholars Program and much more.
Dick Emens would go on to have a notable career in law. In 2009, Dick, with his law partner and wife of 40 years, Bea, began Emens & Wolper Law Firm, LPA (now Emens, Wolper Jacobs & Jasin Law Firm, LPA). His obituary notes his six “main loves in life:” love of family and friends; love of the law; love of the Emens Scholars at Ball State; love of The Conway Center for Family Business; love of traveling; and love of fishing.
Mr. Emens is survived by Bea and his six children—Anne, John “Jack,” Alan, Renee, Jennifer, and Elizabeth—as well as nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and several other close family members and loved ones.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation be made to honor Dick Emens to: Emens Scholars Legacy Fund (#30222), or to the Conway Center for Family Business. Emens Scholars at Ball State University Foundation, 2800 West Bethel Avenue, Muncie, Indiana 47304; and Conway Center of Family Business, at Ohio Dominican University, PO Box 361106, Columbus, Ohio 43236.