A $1.45 million commitment from a Ball State University alumna and her husband represents the largest single gift in the history of Teachers College.
Michelle and Jim Ryan have established the Michelle A. and James T. Ryan Family Scholarship, the Ryan Family Navigators Program, and the Ryan Fellowship for Community-Engaged Teacher Preparation. The initiatives will assist students with diverse and economically-challenged backgrounds by providing them with financial assistance and comprehensive services
Michelle (Asby) Ryan, a 1981 Ball State graduate, earned bachelor’s degrees in both Elementary Education and Special Education.
“Both Jim and I feel it is really important to pay it forward and help others. The bottom line is that an opportunity for students from underserved communities to gain a solid education from a strong university like Ball State could really impact our future teachers in so many different ways,” she said. “We are tremendously proud of the Ryan Family Scholarship and the Ryan Navigators Program that will provide both educational opportunities and resources for future Ball State students.”
“I am grateful for Michelle and Jim Ryan’s generosity and their commitment to provide new opportunities for future teachers,” Ball State University President Geoffrey S. Mearns said. “Now more than ever, it is important to recruit teachers who will diversify and enhance the field of education. The initiatives that Michelle and Jim are supporting will inspire young adults with aspirations of having a fulfilling career and leading a meaningful life to pursue those aspirations by enrolling in our Teachers College.”
The Michelle A. and James T. Ryan Family Scholarship will cover all costs — including tuition, fees, and room and board — for approximately 16 “Ryan Scholars” over the next seven years, in partnership with other institutional aid. It will target future educators with diverse and economically challenging backgrounds.
The Ryan Family Scholars Program will first be awarded to recipients during the 2021-2022 academic year. Scholarship recipients will be selected based on criteria established by the Ryan family in conjunction with Teachers College.
The Ryan Family Navigators Program serves as a hub for student support and connection to University-wide comprehensive student services to all Teachers College students, particularly those who are the first in their family to attend college and/or have financially challenging backgrounds.
This funding supports the hiring of a new director as well as other professional personnel costs and physical space to house the program.
The Ryan Fellowship for Community-Engaged Teacher Preparation provides stipends to approximately 18 undergraduate students participating in the nationally-recognized Schools Within the Context of Community (SCC) program, an exemplary model of community-engaged teacher preparation.
Schools Within the Context of Community is a semester-long immersive program that creates a learning environment for future teachers that is community-engaged, culturally responsive, and equity-focused. These preservice teacher candidates are immersed in a historically African-American neighborhood and serve alongside community ambassadors to assist local children and their families.
Local SCC program spin-offs include the MuncieP3 Academic Enrichment Program, which impacts elementary school student learning, and the Alliance for Community-Engaged Teacher Preparation, a summer institute with boot camps and site visits.
Dean Anand R. Marri said Michelle and Jim Ryan are “long-term partners” in the pursuit of Teachers College’s two primary goals: equity and excellence.
“We are very grateful and appreciative that the Ryan family’s gift provides opportunities to populations that have traditionally not had access to resources,” Marri said. “It is critical to recruit the best possible candidates, including students that come from low- or moderate-income households, first-generation college students, and/or minoritized populations who want to be educators and make a positive difference in the communities they serve."
For more information about the Ryan Family Scholars and Ryan Family Navigators Programs, and to see a complete list of all scholarships offered to students in the departments of Early Childhood, Youth and Family Studies, Educational Leadership, Educational Psychology, Educational Studies, Elementary Education, and Special Education, visit the Teachers College website.