Michel Mounayar, ‘82, a registered architect, tenured professor of architecture, and former associate dean of the Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (ECAP), remembers his first days on the campus of Ball State University as a graduate student 40-plus years ago.

“It feels like it was like yesterday,” he said. “I can’t believe it has been 40 years.”

Mr. Mounayar attended a workshop held at ECAP that helped define his studies as he pursued a degree in architecture focusing on historic preservation. But what drew his attention wasn’t just that the workshop was about architecture—it was how architects help people.

“It changed my life,” Mr. Mounayar said.

Shortly after graduating in 1982, Mr. Mounayar began working at his alma mater as director of Ball State’s esteemed Community Based Projects (CBP) program. He served in that role from 1984 until 1993, where he helped establish CBP as one of the top leading applied research and service-learning programs in the nation.

Putting service to action, since 1984, Mr. Mounayar has personally participated in or chaired more than forty state or national urban design workshops.

“A lot of small towns that don’t have the ability to have a lot of sophisticated architectural firms come to them just because of financial difficulties and distance and so on,” he said. “The University kind of by providing or setting together teams to try to help communities work through their difficulties—whatever their difficulties were from the point of view of urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, and planning.”

Through the years, Mr. Mounayar has helped towns throughout Indiana, spanning from the northern boundaries of the state all the way to the Ohio River.

“We’ve worked with all kinds of communities, big and small,” he added.

“You learn that in every community, people sometimes generalize, but really, none are the same. They’re very unique. I learned a lot about how wonderful people are.” – Michel Mounayar

Working with these towns has been rewarding for Mr. Mounayar, but getting to do so alongside colleagues and students has been just as impactful on his time at Ball State, which includes serving in multiple administrative capacities, including acting college dean in 2007.

“There have been students, faculty, administrators, and leaders that were very influential in how I evolved at Ball State,” he said.

One central influential figure for Mr. Mounayar has been former professor Harry Eggink, ’71.

“We built a great relationship working together,” Mr. Mounayar said. “He was doing this community work before me. And so, in a way, I was sort of the continuation of that line. I think that’s what is wonderful —you’ve got a line that started a long time ago, and you pick up the line for a certain period of time, and then, hopefully, more people keep it going forward.”

And just as Mr. Mounayar has grown over the last four decades, so has the campus of Ball State.

“From 1983 to now, the campus is totally unrecognizable, but it is tremendous and really a wonderful place to be,” he said. “I was walking through campus recently and saw students in hammocks and reading books outside. It just gives you such a great collegial feeling. I think the University is a wonderful place to realize your ideas and what you’re trying to accomplish.”

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