Topics: Administrative, Speakers

April 28, 2014

Spring Commencement ceremony on the Quad
Luke Messer, congressman for Indiana's sixth district, a 19-county region of east central and southeastern Indiana, will deliver the address at Ball State University's annual Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 3, at 10 a.m.

Luke Messer, congressman for Indiana's 6th District, a 19-county region of east central and southeastern Indiana, will deliver the address at Ball State University's annual Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 3, at 10 a.m. The university will confer 2,874 degrees on the Arts Terrace. (In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be at Worthen Arena.)

Messer, a sixth generation Hoosier, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Elected president of the freshman class by his peers in the U.S. House of Representatives, Messer serves on the House Committees on Budget, Foreign Affairs, and Education and the Workforce.

Prior to his service in the U.S. House, Messer gained experience as a lawyer and served two terms as an Indiana state representative working with then Gov. Mitch Daniels on budget issues as a member of the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee. Messer is an accomplished education reformer, authoring nationally recognized high school dropout reform legislation in the Indiana Statehouse and serving in the private sector as the president and CEO of the Hoosiers for Economic Growth Network and School Choice Indiana.

Recently, Messer and Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora co-hosted the Congressional Leadership Academy at the university, an event designed to encourage high school juniors to consider the need for collaboration between private, public and nonprofit organizations to work toward a better future for Indiana.

Also at commencement, Ball State will bestow a doctor of humane letters degree to philanthropic leader Thomas M. Lofton, and longtime leaders of the Muncie community Ken and Peggy Briner will receive President’s Medals in honor of their accomplishments and their commitment to the university.

A retired attorney, Lofton has served as chairman of the board of directors for the Lilly Endowment since 1994. One of the 10 largest private foundations in the U.S., the Lilly Endowment counts education as a top priority and has consistently supported Ball State, providing more than $87 million in grants to support educational programs and other endeavors.

The Briners are enthusiastic fans of Ball State, dedicated to supporting the university and its mission. Ken Briner earned his bachelor of science degree in industrial technology from Ball State in 1969. He retired as senior vice president of operations, products and marketing with Muncie Power Products in 2011 and is a member of the Ball State Foundation Board of Directors, the Cardinal Commitment campaign committee and the Cardinal Network for Higher Education.

Peggy Briner is a founding member of Discovery, a women’s collaborative philanthropic group established to support projects and programs at Ball State. Together, the Briners provided the lead gift for the Briner Sports Complex, which dramatically improved the university's facilities for field hockey, women's soccer, and track and field.

Spring Commencement on the Fine Arts Terrace is among the university’s greatest traditions. Past Ball State commencements have been graced by the presence of Tony Award-winning actress Sutton Foster; then U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar; Steve Kroft, senior correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes”; Angela Ahrendts, then chief executive officer of Burberry (soon to be a senior vice president at Apple); Richard Linnehan, four times an astronaut on NASA space shuttles; Steve Inskeep, co-host of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition”; jazz musician Ellis Marsalis; editor, educator, and presidential adviser David Gergen; and Pulitzer Prize winner David Broder, among others. The speaker at last May’s commencement was Jeffrey D. Feltman, undersecretary general for political affairs at the United Nations.