December 3, 2018
CHICAGO — During its Centennial, Ball State was honored as the 2018 Institution of the Year on December 1 by the Indiana Society of Chicago, a recognition that President Geoffrey S. Mearns called a testament to the University’s proud past and bright future.
“I’m honored to accept this award of distinction on behalf of our University,” President Mearns said during the gala at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown. “This award is a testament to the contributions and achievements of 22,000 students, 4,000 dedicated faculty and staff, and 197,000 proud and loyal alumni.”
The Indiana Society of Chicago, a social organization celebrating all things Hoosier, was founded more than a century ago by acclaimed writer George Ade, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist John T. McCutcheon, and the federal court clerk Edward M. Holloway. Since then, leaders have gathered in Chicago the first Saturday in December for a black-tie gala to recognize and celebrate Hoosier individuals and institutions that make outstanding contributions to the state and nation.
President Mearns accepted the award to thunderous applause after the audience viewed the University’s student-produced Centennial documentary, “From Normal to Extraordinary: Ball State’s First Century.”
He said the documentary tells the remarkable story of Ball State and its extraordinary people. He noted that after four unsuccessful efforts to bring higher education to Muncie, the Ball brothers succeeded because of their persistence and their tenacity.
“Our founders were innovative and creative,” President Mearns said. “They embraced risks, and they were courageous. Most importantly, they had the audacity to dream bold dreams.
“As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, we share our gratitude for their achievements. Their vision and their generosity are why I am proud to serve as president during such an important time in our institution’s history. I am also confident in the future direction of our University.”
Entertainment featured a special guest performance by Sutton Foster, an award-winning actor/singer and dancer and star of the current hit TV series Younger.
“We’ve also been fortunate to have a special relationship with Sutton Foster, a Tony Award-winning Broadway performer who refers to Ball State — and Muncie — as her ‘second home,’” he said. “It’s a testament to the quality of the programs in our College of Fine Arts that someone of her talent and international profile would want to associate herself with us — and perform with our students.”
Sutton Foster is an instructor in the University’s Department of Theatre and Dance. In recent years, she has helped direct Ball State musicals, and she has mentored a cabaret class. In Fall 2017, she returned to campus to work with students to record her latest album.
Also attending the event were Governor Eric Holcomb, who helped kick off the program, along with First Lady Janet Holcomb, a Ball State graduate.
Proceeds from the 2018 event go to scholarships for Chicago-area students attending Ball State.