December 19, 2008
With construction of a new Student Recreation and Wellness Facility already underway, the Ball State University Board of Trustees on Dec. 19 approved the issuance of up to $29 million in student fee bonds to complete the project, which also is benefiting from $10 million in gift financing.
Meeting in a regularly scheduled session ahead of Ball State's annual winter Commencement on Dec. 20, the board members also approved the establishment of a new bachelor of science in sales degree within the Department of Marketing and Management and the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Grammy Award-winning classical musician Hilary Hahn.
Two reports, one on the university's financial performance for the fiscal year ended June 30 and the other on the attitudes of Ball State students as reflected in the 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), completed the board's agenda.
Another major step
Work on the new recreation and wellness facility — one of the objectives of the "Education Redefined: Strategic Plan 2007-2012" — began in March and is due to be finished in 2010. With a total of 200,000 square feet including Irving Gymnasium on the north end of campus, the project will bring to seven the number gymnasiums available within the expanded complex while also tripling the amount of other fitness space currently used by students, faculty and staff.
Included inside the facility, too, will be a new 1/8-mile mezzanine-level walking/running track, a 20,000-square-foot indoor turf field for multiple sports and athletic activities, and a climbing wall.
"With each passing day and every advance in the construction, anticipation is building for when the doors of our new Student Recreation and Wellness Facility will swing open for the campus community," said President Jo Ann M. Gora, who has championed a number of health and wellness related initiatives including the university's move toward a smoke-free campus, the appointment of a campus director of health enhancement and the establishment of Ball State's employee QuickCare Clinic. "When that day in the not-too-distant future arrives, I believe we will have taken another major step in improving the overall quality of life for both our students and our employees, adding to the enjoyment of our vibrant and engaging campus."
Heralded as one of the most compelling artists on the international concert circuit today, Hilary Hahn has performed in New York City's famous Carnegie Hall and other major music venues in Berlin, Munich, Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, Vienna, Warsaw and Washington, D.C., where she has dazzled audiences as featured artist or violin soloist with a number of the world's leading symphony orchestras.
She was admitted to Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in 1990 at the age of 10 and made her major orchestra debut barely a year and a half later with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Although she completed the institute's university requirements by the time she was 16, Hahn chose to delay her graduation in order to take additional elective courses in literature and languages. She accepted her bachelor's degree in music in 1999 at age 19.
Little more than two years later, she earned her first Grammy Award for her 2001 recording of the concertos of Brahms and Stravinsky. The same year, Time magazine named Hahn as "America's Best" young classical musician.
"Among our strategic goals is promoting a dynamic campus environment conducive to a well-rounded education and college experience," said Gora. "With this honorary doctor of arts degree, we salute a young woman who understands the power of music to enhance our daily lives and signal that music, theater and the performing arts are, and will remain, a vital part of the life of the university."
(Read more about winter Commencement 2008 at http://www.bsu.edu/update/article/0,1384,--60661,00.html
Filling the gap
On the recommendation of Provost Terry King, the board members approved the new bachelor of science in sales program to — in King's view — "fill a gap in curriculum not only in the Miller College of Business but also within the state of Indiana."
While a number of higher education institutions in Indiana and surrounding states offer a sales concentration within other majors such a business or advertising, King said no nearby state institution presently offers a specific degree program in sales.
In fact, fewer than 30 of the more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States offer a formal sales program, added King, suggesting that addition of the new degree in sales should help further differentiate Ball State from its competition in the eyes of many prospective business students.
"As business and industry leaders anticipate a decline of up to 40 percent in the country's existing sales force by 2010, current recruiters are indicating that their preference for campus visits and their online recruitment efforts increasingly is directed toward those institutions that can provide a qualified sales force," King said. He noted that Ball State already enjoys a reputation as a leader in sales education and that, in terms of faculty expertise, educational technology and facilities, it is particularly well-positioned to create and grow a nationally ranked sales program compatible, as well, with the university's immersive learning and emerging media initiatives.
Pending approval by the Indiana Commission on Higher Education (ICHE), students may register for the new program beginning this fall.
In response to the nation and state's financial situation and in step with other public institutions in Indiana, Ball State recently announced it will defer filling vacant positions and effectuate a number of other cost-saving measures. However, William McCune, associate vice president and controller, reported to the board that the university's financial statements for the close of the last fiscal year on June 30 continue to demonstrate the university's sound financial management. He pointed to a rise in the university's net assets — to $561.7 million from $525.4 million in June 2007 — as well as increases in grants and private gifts as general indicators of Ball State's overall financial strength.
"It's true that Indiana, like the rest of the country, faces some challenging financial conditions," added Thomas Kinghorn, vice president for business affairs and treasurer. "The important thing for Ball State is to remember that any possible reductions in state allocations mostly affect our operating budget. There have been and there will be some adjustments. But the underlying financial stability of the university is sound."
Marilyn Buck, associate provost and dean of University College, briefed board members on the results of the latest NSSE assessing student sentiments in various categories including level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction and enriching educational experiences.
Of particular interest to Ball State, where student-faculty interaction and interdisciplinary collaboration are hallmarks of the immersive learning experience, should be the attitudes of students — especially seniors — regarding the latter three measurements, Buck said. In each, the 2008 data show Ball State students head into graduation generally more satisfied than their peers within the Mid-American Conference, at many public institutions in the Midwest or other comparable schools.
Among the more striking statistics, added Buck, is a gain of 12 index points in Ball State student attitudes between the freshman and senior year on the question of active and collaborative learning and indications that more Ball State students at both the first-year and senior levels feel the university provides a supportive campus environment.