Alumnus Michael P. Smith knows what it means to be a life-long Cardinal. Over the years, the Evanston, Illinois resident, who also earned a master’s degree from Northwestern, has generously supported Ball State and the Department of Journalism, attended hundreds of athletics events, and served in many volunteer leadership roles at Ball State. He is truly one of Ball State’s biggest alumni ambassadors.
After graduating from Ball State with a journalism degree in 1973, he was a successful journalist and editor for 23 years. In 1982 he was part of a team at the Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel that won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. He later moved to a 20-year career in teaching and administration at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Medill School of Journalism, retiring in 2011 as executive director of the Media Management Center. Smith is the author or editor of several monographs, including “Values, Culture, Content,” “The Newsroom Brain,” and “The Changing Reader.”
Over the years, the Evanston, Illinois resident, who also earned a master’s degree from Northwestern, has generously supported Ball State and the Department of Journalism, attended hundreds of athletics events, and served in many volunteer leadership roles at Ball State.
What does Ball State mean to you?
“Ball State is a hidden gem. I like it when people think they have discovered Ball State, as if its excellence is something new. I am also an alum and former professor at Northwestern. I see many parallels between the two alma maters despite their different missions. Sometimes I think Ball Staters are so immersed that they don’t see how special it is.”
What do you love about journalism?
“Journalism is an amazing profession. I look at Ball State journalism and see excellent faculty and students working hard to deliver important information that impacts people’s lives. I call journalism at Ball State a portal major – with journalism skills a student can be successful and impactful in any number of professions. I think that is needed now more than ever.”
What inspired you to create scholarship funds for Ball State journalism students and faculty support?
“I was the first in my family to attend college, and I would not have made it had professors like Louis Ingelhart and Earl Conn not helped and guided me. The scholarships that I received made a difference. I believe we are all where we are because we are standing on someone’s shoulders. For me it was my parents and my professors, so I want to thank and honor them by helping today’s students.”
What is your experience as a volunteer alumnus?
“When you volunteer, it opens new opportunities and you get to meet interesting and committed people. I have served on the Alumni Council, the Journalism Alumni board, the CCIM Dean’s Advisory Committee, various search committees and task forces, fundraising campaigns, and the Ball State Foundation Board of Directors. In each situation, I have come away from the meeting having learned something new and having made new friends. I worked in the media business for more than 20 years and at Northwestern University for more than 20 years; some of the smartest most committed people I have ever met live in Muncie and work at Ball State.”
Why are you so enthusiastic about Ball State sports?
“I have participated in sports and attended sporting events my entire life. So, it is natural for me to do that. I get a lot of pleasure out of seeing teams compete and athletes grow and succeed. My freshman year at BSU, my dorm RA herded a bunch of us together and we went to see the football team play. That was the Fall of 1969, so this Fall would have been my 51st season.”
What BSU sporting events do you attend and what sport is your favorite?
“I attend all football games home and away and am a men’s basketball and women’s basketball season ticketholder, so I see most of their games. I also follow baseball and softball. I have started organizing baseball and softball spring break trips with some older alums. Since I live north of Chicago, I watch the schedule for when volleyball, soccer or field hockey is playing nearby. It is hard to say which is my favorite, because if they represent Ball State, they are my favorite, no matter which sport.”
When you come to Ball State campus, what else do you do in while you are in Muncie?
“I have many friends in Muncie, so I like to visit with them. Muncie has a burgeoning restaurant and brewpub scene, so I try to sample what is new. I do have favorites, so I have to push myself to try to new places. On campus, I am a big fan of the Theater and Dance student productions; there is such amazing talent at BSU.”
Smith is a true Ball State ambassador who takes his Cardinal pride everywhere he goes. He also loves to share his message about “the excellence of Ball State” by being a frequent flyer on the Alumni Association’s Facebook and Twitter social media channels. If you would like to get more involved yourself, visit bsu.edu/alumni and get social!