Geoffrey S. Mearns
Fall 2023 Convocation Remarks
Friday, August 18, 2023, 9 a.m.
Emens Auditorium

'...An even brighter future awaits us.'

In May, I sent you a video in which I said that I believe that we have emerged from the pandemic better and stronger.

I said that we are better and stronger because of all of you—our dedicated faculty and staff.

I am grateful for your persistence. Your passion. Your creativity.

This morning, I want to elaborate on why I am so confident that we are stronger. That we are better. And that an even brighter future awaits us.

Let me begin with very good news about enrollment. On Monday, we will enroll approximately 3,800 new freshmen, a nine-percent increase compared to Fall 2022. The size of this year’s freshman class is even more impressive when you consider that, in August 2021, we enrolled only 3,278 new freshmen because of the adverse impact of the pandemic.

So, this year’s freshman class has increased by 16 percent in just two years. Even though the number of high school graduates in Indiana continues to decline. Even though the percentage of Indiana high school graduates who go to college continues to decline. And even though the number of Indiana high school graduates who choose to go to college outside of Indiana has increased.

In short, our share of Indiana college-going students is now larger than it was before the pandemic.

'Every day, the people at our University show up for our students.'

The personal commitment of our faculty and staff, combined with new strategies, produce impressive outcomes for our students.

One more statistic. Since the advent of the pandemic in March 2020 through our commencement ceremony last month, more than 20,800 students earned a degree from our University.

This statistic demonstrates how, every day, the people at our University show up for our students. That’s how we become better and stronger.

We also show up for each other. That’s also how we become better and stronger.

This past January, as the Spring semester was about to begin, two faculty members in our English department needed to fly halfway around the world to care for an ill family member.

The professors, who are married, took semester-long medical leaves. Their sudden absences required other faculty to cover their six classes.

Sean Lovelace said: “I was overwhelmed by how many different faculty with varying expertise stepped up to cover those classes, with minimal time to prepare. I was truly inspired as chair of English. Not surprised, mind you, but inspired. The department proved itself not just as colleagues, but as a family that helps one another in their time of need.”

'No other university has produced these results in the 75-year history of the Mid-American Conference'

We also strive for—and achieve—excellence in athletic competition.

Last year, our Cardinals won six conference championships, and 11 teams qualified to participate in national postseason competitions.

In May, our Cardinals received the Jacoby Trophy. This award is presented each year by the MAC to the university with the best all-around women’s sports programs. And Ball State finished second in the competition for the Reese Trophy, which is presented to the MAC’s best men’s programs.

On the same evening in May that we received these awards, our student athletes received the Institutional Academic Achievement Award. This award is given each year to the university whose student athletes had the highest combined GPAs across all sports.

So, first for women’s sports programs.

Second for men’s sports programs.

And first for academic excellence.

No other university has produced these results in the 75-year history of the Mid-American Conference.

Better and stronger—and brighter—than ever before!

'Each day, we are planting and nurturing seeds of Beneficence'

Last year, we received approximately 37,100 gifts. Each one of these gifts is a demonstration of someone’s gratitude for the positive impact that our faculty and staff have had on their lives and their families.

Each day, we are planting and nurturing seeds of Beneficence—seeds that will one day blossom into acts of service, kindness, and generosity.

We are very fortunate to create this legacy.

I just mentioned gratitude. I incorporated many of our enduring values into my remarks this morning, because I believe that our sustained commitment to these values enabled us to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and emerge better and stronger.