Topic: President

September 25, 2020

As a result of a generous $2.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., Ball State University is developing a comprehensive program to improve the experience of first-year students.

First-Year Flight will use innovative methods to enhance student engagement during their first year of college, which is a critical year for most students.

The program is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities, an initiative to help Indiana’s 38 accredited public and private colleges and universities improve efforts to prepare students for successful futures and strengthen the long-term financial sustainability of their institutions.

“We are grateful for the support from Lilly Endowment, which continues to be a strong supporter of higher education, including Ball State,” President Geoffrey S. Mearns said. “We believe that, by providing an exemplary first-year experience, our University can improve on-time graduate rates and help all of our students succeed.”

First-Year Flight will provide:

  • Preparation programs that help students gain skills to begin college with confidence.
  • Programming that fosters a greater sense of community, especially for underrepresented students.
  • Integrated academic and career pathways that guide students to degree programs that align their interests with employment opportunities.
  • Intentional curriculum planning, in conjunction with proactive, data-informed advising strategies that empower students to complete their credentials and to graduate on time.

Student attrition is often associated with first-year students, particularly students from underrepresented populations. Programs like these will increase Ball State’s retention rate and help keep students in school.

This implementation grant was awarded under the second phase of Lilly Endowment’s three-phase Charting the Future initiative. In this phase, the Endowment invited proposals that present promising strategies that will result in economies of scale and other cost efficiencies to enhance the viability and financial condition of the institutions and prepare graduates for rewarding employment and to live engaged and meaningful lives, especially in Indiana.