Topics: Athletics, Alumni, Administrative

December 15, 2008

Former Cardinals and pro football standout Blaine Bishop, a 1993 Ball State University graduate, returns to his alma mater on Saturday, Dec. 20, to deliver the graduation address at the university's annual Winter Commencement exercises. He also will receive the President's Medal of Distinction from university head Jo Ann M. Gora in recognition not only of his great athletic talents, but also "the passion, generosity and leadership he shows in giving back to his community."

Ceremonies marking the conferral of degrees on approximately 1,000 Ball State winter graduates are scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. in Worthen Arena on campus.

Also highlighting the event will be the awarding of honorary degrees to Grammy Award-winning musician Hilary Hahn and Yeungnam University (South Korea) President Tong Ki Woo. The President's Medal and the honorary degree are the highest honors bestowed by Ball State.

Stellar example

A member the Ball State Athletics Hall of Fame, Bishop captained the Cardinals from his defensive back position during his senior season in 1992, finishing his collegiate career with an appearance in the annual Blue-Gray All-Star Classic. The All-Mid-American Conference second team choice was selected by the Houston Oilers in the eighth round of that year's National Football League (NFL) draft and eventually earned four trips to the Pro Bowl for his play with the Oilers and their later incarnation, the Tennessee Titans.

The Sporting News named Bishop one of the NFL's Top 100 Players in 1998.

While on the Titans' roster, Bishop also played in the 2000 Super Bowl, won by the St. Louis Rams. He retired from the league in 2002 after a single season with the Philadelphia Eagles but maintains his interest in the game through his work as a radio and television co-host and analyst back in Nashville, where he coaches his son's soccer team and serves on the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee.

"Together with the Central Indiana Community Foundation, Blaine also established the Blaine E. Bishop Scholarship Fund for Hoosier high school students interested in pursuing college," noted Gora. "And he co-chairs Ball State's Floyd Leadership Scholars committee, which steers scholarship funds for minority students who possess leadership potential and high academic abilities, especially those who have participated in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Big Brothers-Big Sisters or the Center for Leadership Development (CLD) in Indianapolis.

"As a high school student at Indianapolis Cathedral in the early '90s, Blaine also attended the programs at CLD, an organization with which Ball State has had a long and valued relationship — sharing as we do the mission of preparing bright students to meet society's most pressing needs and serve the communities in which they will live and work. Blaine Bishop is a stellar example of the worthiness of that mission, and I look forward to presenting him with the President's Medal in honor of both his outstanding professional achievements and his many generous contributions of time and resources to his Tennessee and Indiana neighbors as well as the Ball State community."

"America's Best" young musician

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Hilary Hahn knows the way.

Heralded as one of the most compelling artists on the international concert circuit today, Hahn also knows the way to major music performance 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 concetos of Brahms and Stravinsky. The same year, Time magazine named Hahn as "America's Best" young classical musician.

"In recognizing Hilary Hahn, we're grateful both for her beautiful music and the opportunity to celebrate, even tangentially, Ball State's own significant contributions to music and the arts," said Gora, observing that earlier this year the School of Music was recognized by In Tune magazine as being one of the nation's best, in company with such elite institutions such as Juilliard, Oberlin and the Boston Conservatory.

"Among our strategic goals is promoting a vibrant campus environment conducive to a well-rounded education and college experience," Gora added. "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."

Vision and friendship

As president of Yeungnam University in Gyeongsan, Republic of Korea, Dr. Tong Ki Woo shares responsibility for managing an international academic exchange program with Ball State that spans more than four decades — the longest such cooperative agreement in Ball State history.

Encouraged by their president's firm commitment to international higher education, thousands of Yeungnam University students have studied at sister universities overseas — including Ball State — since 2003, reports Gora, who traveled to Korea in summer 2008 in part to celebrate the two institutions' enduring partnership. She received an honorary degree from Yeungnam, which counts five Ball State graduates among its faculty, as part of her visit.

Woo will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Ball State in recognition of his global stature as a scholar and author on issues of public policy and administration, stemming from his role at Yeungnam as well as his previous work as a senior researcher at Korea's Institute for Human Settlements and visiting scholar at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the State University of New York-Albany.

"Ball State has made great strides in recent years advancing our international presence, increasing the percentage of our students who study abroad and in welcoming a growing number of international students to study on our campus in the heart of the American Midwest," Gora reflected. "The support of our colleague Dr. Woo in promoting this kind of international exchange yields untold benefits for so many of our students and faculty who take advantage of these kinds of opportunities. We very much appreciate his vision and his friendship and look forward to continuing our happy relationship with Dr. Woo and Yeungnam University for many more years to come."