man and woman smiling at camera

The E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center’s Town and Gown Conversations program bridges the gap between the academic world and townspeople.

About four times a year, notable speakers are brought to Muncie to meet with guests, share views, and exchange ideas on topics of mutual concern and interest, including art, the academy, business, philosophy, science, journalism, and politics.

For nearly four decades Town and Gown has maintained a solid reputation for its “salon” atmosphere and the unique programming it has brought to East Central Indiana.

For many years, Town and Gown Conversation dinners have been a highly anticipated part of our calendar. The speakers, all experts in their varied and diverse fields, have expanded our awareness of important global and cultural issues in an entertaining, erudite fashion…and the dinners are always gourmet creations from Ball State University Catering!

—Dr. and Mrs. George Branam


History

Introduced in 1982, the dinner-lecture series was the brainchild of Mr. Martin D. Schwartz, Dr. Richard W. Burkhardt, and Dr. John T. Koumoulides, all of whom were active in both community and university activities. Their vision for the program was to cultivate rich intellectual and social interactions between the two communities, which still exists today. Since the beginning, the funding for these dinner-lectures has come solely from individual donors and administrative support has been provided by the university.

Past Speakers

Some of our speakers have even put Muncie on the map. After Alexander McCall Smith, an internationally acclaimed, best-selling British writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, came to speak at a Town and Gown program, Muncie appeared in his novel, The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection. This book was the 13th installment in “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series set in Botswana. It was revealed that one of the on-going characters, Clovis Anderson, is a Muncie native.

Likewise, John Gilstrap, a ballistics expert and author, presented “Broken Bones, Ballistics & Backdrafts: Technical Stuff that Writers Should Get Right,” at a Town and Gown program. In his book, No Mercy, the first book in his Jonathan Graves series, Graves was hired to save a kidnapped Ball State student.

Some guest speakers liked Muncie so well that they returned despite the distance traveled. The Rt. Hon. David Trimble, First Minister of Northern Ireland and 1998 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, has visited Muncie three times. During his 2014 visit, Kennison took Trimble to Indianapolis to meet the then-governor Mike Pence.

Other distinguished guest speakers have included:

  • Kenneth R. Minogue, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, London School of Economics
  • Robert M. Brier, Egyptologist
  • Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, The Rt. Hon. Marquess of Salisbury
  • Martine Brownley, Goodrich C. White Professor of English, Emory University
  • Ruth Dudley Edwards, award-winning historian, journalist, and broadcaster both in Ireland and the United Kingdom
  • Fred Krakowiak, leading wildlife artist and safari expert
  • John H. Johnson, professional economist and statistician
  • Robert L. Bradley, Jr., Founder and Chief Executive Officer, the Institute for Energy Research
  • Daniel Asia, an award-winning composer
The Town and Gown program brings together faculty, administrators and people from Muncie and around the state to meet worldwide leaders from all disciplines including art, literature, history, business, politics and the academy. Discussions with these knowledgeable guests, and each other, in the grand setting of the E. B. and Bertha C. Ball Center, raises the standard of culture and community and exposes interested citizens to the larger world. T & G embodies 'community engagement.'

—John Worthen, President Emeritus, Ball State University

Donations

Town and Gown Conversations is funded by contributions from individual donors. A minimum contribution amount has never been specified, but the actual cost per person for one program is more than $75 for the reception, dinner, speaker’s honorarium, and travel and expenses. Usually, four events per year are planned; two during fall semester and two during spring semester.

If you would like to support the Town and Gown program, you may give online, by mail, on the phone, or through other methods.

Please make your gift to the account #3808, “Town and Gown.”