Topics: Administrative, College of Applied Sciences and Technology, College of Sciences and Humanities

December 18, 2009

Expecting to improve the employability of future graduates while increasing Ball State's support for a number of Indiana's economic development initiatives, the university's Board of Trustees approved the establishment of a bachelor of science/bachelor of arts degree in construction management and the revision of an existing doctor of education (EdD) in science degree to a PhD in science (environmental science) during its regularly scheduled Dec. 18 meeting on campus.

As outlined by Provost Terry King, the proposed BS/BA in construction management would be offered by the College of Applied Sciences and Technology (CAST) and essentially convert an existing option within the industrial technology major into a stand-alone major.

The separation should enable the programs to better differentiate themselves, allowing for increased recognition of the accomplishments of the construction management program and providing greater student recruitment opportunities in that area, King said.

Graduates in construction management are prepared to assume a variety of positions within the construction industry, including project manager, estimator, scheduler, trainer, safety officer and site superintendent, among others. And, the provost reported, placement potential for those graduates is strong, with Indiana's Workforce Development agency predicting near 20 percent growth in the field between 2004 and 2014.

Indeed, placement for Ball State construction management graduates already is more than 80 percent within six months of graduation, said King, who believes the shift to a stand-alone major will make future graduates even more desirable to would-be employers.

Meanwhile, the creation of the proposed PhD in science (environmental science) is an evolution of the university's current EdD in science degree, King informed the board members, adding that the suggested change reflects the maturation of that program as well as present trends in scientific research and education.

Unique to the program will be an interdisciplinary science core representing 24 hours of course work out of the total of 90 hours required for the degree, explained King.

Although each student's program will originate in a major discipline, it will be complemented by courses from other scientific disciplines including biology, chemistry and geology. All of the new doctoral candidates also will be expected to participate in interdisciplinary research seminars each semester and complete a university-level teaching internship.

King indicated the proposed PhD would help Ball State in its support of Indiana's economic development initiatives in the environmental sciences while also improving the university's ability to attract and retain the best faculty. It is expected, as well, to enhance the university's ability to attract external research funding and promote basic and applied scholarship.

The board agreed to forward both proposals to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for its review and required approval.

Honoring Ahrendts

The board also voted to award an honorary doctor of humane letters degree to alumna Angela Ahrendts, CEO of international clothier Burberry Limited, who has accepted an invitation to be the principal speaker at spring Commencement.

A native of New Palestine, Ind., Ahrendts earned her bachelor's degree in marketing and merchandising from Ball State and, after relocating to New York City, progressed quickly through a series of senior management positions including executive vice president of Henri Bendel and, from 1989 to 1996, president of Donna Karan International.

Ahrendts moved to Liz Claiborne Inc. in 1998, becoming executive vice president and diversifying the corporation from 10 to 41 brands. She also directed a number of new product launches and was responsible for many international growth and innovative supply chain initiatives at the women's wear manufacturer and retailer.

She joined Burberry in January 2006 and was named CEO the following July. Together with the company's creative director, Christopher Bailey, she also is co-founder of the Burberry Foundation, committed to directing global resources in favor of helping young people realize their potential and achieve their goals through their individual talents and creativity.

Ahrendts was included on the Forbes list of the business world's 100 Most Powerful Women in 2006 and 2007. She also was among Fortune magazine's International Power 50 in 2007 and 2008. Her professional success story, especially as a Ball State alumna, should be both compelling and inspirational for this year's graduates, said President Jo Ann M. Gora.

Financial report

On the board's agenda, too, was acceptance of the university's annual financial report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, as certified by the Indiana State Board of Accounts in late October.

William McCune, associate vice president for business affairs and controller, said that the yearly financial statements continue to demonstrate the university's effective stewardship of the resources with which it has been entrusted.

In addition to the unqualified or 'clean' opinion from the Board of Accounts, the audit did not turn up any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in the university's system of internal control, McCune said.

Still, Randall Howard, vice president for business affairs and treasurer, cautioned that Ball State, like other public institutions in Indiana, has not been spared by the current national and statewide financial crises. Numerous initiatives to cut costs and increase revenue have been put in place over the past year, and university officials also have begun planning for their share of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' recently announced $150 million cut to higher education. 
The governor has tasked the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE) with recommending proposed allocations for the cut across the state's various public colleges and universities. Although at this point, Howard said, the university, like the commission, is in an exploratory phase, examining various possibilities to reduce expenses or increase revenue.

"When the magnitude of our cuts is known, we will initiate a process that involves the entire campus community in looking at all viable options," said Howard. "Sound financial management has always played an important role in the governance of this institution and declining state appropriations will make that role even more important in the foreseeable future." 

In other business, the board also:

  • approved changes to Ball State's fee remission program, educational assistance program and leave for study policy for employees. As a result, eligible employees wishing to take advantage of any of those educational opportunities will now be required to obtain approval from their respective division vice presidents, achieve a minimum grade in each class and demonstrate actual completion of each class.
  • agreed to adopt written plan documents amending and restating the university's Alternate Pension Plan (APP) and Tax Deferred Annuity Plan in order to conform with final Internal Revenue Service regulations governing Section 403(b) retirement plans.