Topics: Administrative, President, Board of Trustees

December 18, 2015

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Members of the Ball State Board of Trustees praised the university for its financial responsibility after it submitted a clean, on-time audit.

The Ball State Board of Trustees today accepted the university’s 2015 audited financial report, which was a clean, on-time audit, and approved the bonds to fund the renovation of Schmidt/Wilson Residence Hall. Ball State’s bond rating was recently highly rated by two of the nation’s most critical bond rating agencies, reflecting high confidence in the university’s financial position.

“Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have praised the university’s fundamental credit strengths, consistently positive financial operations and a strong management team with good fiscal planning and policies in place,” said Bernard Hannon, vice president for Business Affairs and treasurer. “Offsetting concerns about marginally declining enrollments were addressed by the ongoing development of a five-year enrollment management plan, contributing to the high ratings.”

In addition to funding Schmidt/Wilson, the university also will refinance about $20 million of outstanding Series 2006 bonds. With the positive bond ratings, the refinancing at a lower rate will save the university $2 million, Hannon said.

Also today, the board heard a report from Julie Hopwood, senior adviser to the president and interim vice president for both Strategic Communications and Enrollment Services, that enrollment confirmations are up nearly 21 percent over this time last year.

“It’s early in the process, but this is an excellent indicator that our concerted efforts are working to meet students where they are,” Hopwood said. “Ball State’s new, mobile-friendly landing and admissions pages, digital media buys and new YouVisit virtual tour are showcasing what Ball State offers students, on their turf and terms.”

The board also heard a report on diversity at Ball State in a presentation by Kay Bales, vice president for Student Affairs; Charlene Alexander, associate provost for diversity and director of the Office of Institutional Diversity; and Marie Williams, associate vice president for Human Resources and Administrative Services.

An administrative task force has been reviewing diversity issues related to recruitment and retention of diverse employees and students, and was charged with making recommendations to promote and maintain cultural diversity among the faculty, administrative and student populations, and to recruit and retain minority students.

The team summarized that Ball State’s commitment to an inclusive environment has resulted in a mostly welcoming environment but that the campus must remain vigilant in its efforts to prioritize cultural diversity and maintain a positive, hospitable atmosphere for all.

The board also approved a 2.9 percent increase in room and board for incoming freshmen in 2016. Students on the premium plan will see no increase, so the weighted average increase would actually be about 2.3 percent overall, Hannon said.

“These modest increases will keep university rates well below our peers,” Hannon noted, crediting sound financial management for keeping the increase to a minimum.

Also today, President Paul W. Ferguson noted that the university’s first Centennial Commitment (18 by ’18) Annual Report of Progress has been published online, providing a 360-degree review of accomplishments eight months into the plan.

“The Annual Report clearly demonstrates the continuing upward trajectory of the university,” Ferguson said. “It also presents the overall commitment to transparency and accountability, successes and challenges, as well as showcasing the remarkable contributions of our faculty, staff and students.