"Our Call to Beneficence" is a podcast hosted by Geoffrey S. Mearns, the president of Ball State University. The podcast features conversations with Ball State graduates and friends who embody the spirit of Beneficence through their professional success and their personal service.

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S1E10: ‘For Our Institution to Have a Future, Our Community Needs to Have a Future’ | (Deborah and James Fallows, Veteran Journalists)

Deborah and James Fallows are experienced, accomplished journalists who have influenced culture through their insights on politics, foreign affairs, and life in America.

Together, the Fallows wrote Our Towns, a best-selling book that was published in 2018. Our Towns describes how they spent four years traveling 100,000 miles in their single-engine plane.

S1E9: ‘I’m a Big Picture Person’ | (Jo Ann Gora, Professor and President Emerita)

From 2004 to 2014, Dr. Jo Ann Gora served as the 14th President of Ball State University. During her tenure, she championed immersive learning, created a new brand—“Education Redefined”—for the institution, and successfully engaged with some of our most prominent graduates, including David Letterman.

Dr. Gora shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s, what drew her to academia, and why she wanted to become president of Ball State. She also speaks candidly about the research she conducted before interviewing for the job, including crashing a Ball State alumni event with her husband, Roy.

S1E8: ‘He Was On A Mission to Make Ball State Great’ | (Dick Emens, Son of Ball State President John R. Emens)

Dick Emens was just a young boy when his father, John R. Emens, became the sixth president of Ball State. It was 1945. That same year marked the end of the Second World War—and the beginning of a tremendous period of growth for Ball State.

In this episode, Dick talks about what it was like to grow up on campus during that time. He also reflects on how his father’s transformative leadership and optimistic personality earned him the admiration of our faculty, staff, and students along with a playful nickname.

S1E7: ‘The First Job Is Always The Toughest to Get’ | (Brandon Pope, Anchor, Media Critic and Columnist)

Brandon Pope is an anchor reporter for Chicago’s CW26. He’s also an award-winning television host, media critic, and columnist.

In the years since he graduated from Ball State in 2014, Brandon has applied the skills he learned in the classroom, along with the power of networking, to stand out in one of the country’s biggest media markets. He’s also parlayed his digital media expertise into a contributing writer position with EBONY magazine.

S1E6: Delivering Innovation, One Package at a Time | (Kent “Oz” Nelson, Retired Chairman and CEO of UPS)

Kent “Oz” Nelson is a Ball State graduate whose discipline, compassion, and common sense propelled him in his climb up the corporate ladder at UPS. In 1959, Oz began his decades-long career at UPS just two days after graduating from Ball State. He began as a sales and customer service representative, and he retired as chairman and CEO of UPS in 1997.

In this episode, Oz talks about the professors and courses that inspired him as a Ball State student and how his involvement in a fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, helped him establish the connections that created his opportunity at UPS.

“I’ll Never Forget That Feeling” | (Tiara Thomas, Grammy, Oscar Award-Winning Singer-Songwriter)

Tiara Thomas is a Grammy and Oscar award-winning singer-songwriter who graduated from Ball State in 2012.

Tiara grew up in Indianapolis and, shortly after completing her undergraduate degree in telecommunications, landed a record deal that opened the door to her professional aspirations of becoming an artist.

In this episode, Tiara reveals how her dream of winning a Grammy began when she was just a young girl and how she recorded her first original song from the stairwell of her LaFollette residence hall.

From Ball State to a Fortune 500 Boardroom | (Renae Conley, Corporate Executive and Chair of Ball State’s Board of Trustees)

Renae Conley is an accomplished Ball State graduate who presently serves as the chair of our university’s Board of Trustees.

Renae grew up in Muncie, earned her bachelor’s degree and her MBA from Ball State, and then embarked upon a successful and fulfilling career that allowed her, time and again, to break the glass ceiling.

In this episode, Renae talks about the mentors who helped shape her career ambitions. She reveals why she loved working in the energy industry and what it was like to serve as the first female CEO of the only Fortune 500 company in Louisiana.

A Truth-Telling Author | (Ashley C. Ford, NYT Best-Selling Author, Podcaster & Educator)

Ashley C. Ford is a New York Times-best selling author, podcaster, and educator. Her debut memoir, “Somebody’s Daughter,” chronicles her life growing up as a young Black girl in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Ashley’s book was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for publication under her imprint, “An Oprah Book.” In addition to being on a first-name basis with the former queen of daytime talk TV, Ashley has written national magazine features about other celebrities, politicians, and athletes, including actress Anne Hathaway, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Serena Williams.

A Master Storyteller | (Don Yaeger, NYT Best-Selling Author, Leadership Speaker, and Executive Coach)

Don Yaeger is a New York Times best-selling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and leadership coach whose clients include executives in the banking, tech, and entertainment industries.

After graduating from Ball State, Don worked as a newspaper reporter before he was hired as a writer and associate editor for Sports Illustrated, the world’s most popular weekly sports magazine. Don parlayed his career at the magazine into a successful second career writing the life stories of some of the biggest names in sports.

A Lifelong Champion for Students | (Vince Bertram, President and CEO, Project Lead the Way)

In this episode, Vince talks about his upbringing, what inspired him to become a teacher and a coach, and his memories of working with legendary coaches John Wooden and Rick Majerus.

Vince describes some of the influential educators he met as a student at Ball State and shares his thoughts about Ball State’s innovative partnership with Muncie Community Schools.