Topics: President, Muncie, Community Engagement, Awards

September 30, 2022

Shafer Tower on McKinley

The Ball State University Board of Trustees approved the transfer of 12.36 acres of land to the Muncie Redevelopment Commission (MRC) during its regularly scheduled meeting on Friday. The Board’s action was part of a meeting that included several informational updates—including on the Ball State-Muncie Community Schools partnership, a new Indiana Connection Lounge at the University, and an enrollment update.

The transferred property will allow the city to work towards the development of 30-40 new homes, which, in turn, would generate additional tax revenue for both the city and Muncie Community Schools.

“Our decision to transfer this land to the city is yet another example of our University’s ongoing commitment to Muncie,” said Renae Conley, Ball State Board of Trustees Chair. “It is with collaborative, creative support like this that we can continue to positively advance both our University and our community.”

Indiana Code allows for the transfer of the land from the University and for the City of Muncie to accept real estate as a gift. Ball State will incur no costs in the transfer.

“I’m grateful that our University can transfer this land to the city. It will ultimately provide revenue that will help our city and our public school system,” Ball State University President Geoffrey S. Mearns said. “This land is not part of our University’s long-term plan nor our Campus Master Plan, so this transfer makes sense for Ball State and the city.”

The land is northwest of campus. It is just north of Heath Farm—located south of Riggin Road and west of Everett Road—and surrounded by other residential neighborhoods on the city’s north side.

The Trustees also received an annual update on the University’s innovative and ongoing partnership with Muncie Community Schools.

Since the partnership’s inception in July 2018, Ball State has helped raise $5 million in philanthropic investments and $12.9 in competitive grants for the school system. Earlier this year, MCS was awarded an $8.1 million Next Generation School Improvement Grant from the Indiana Department of Education for Grissom, Longfellow, and South View elementary schools.

Ball State recently was awarded a $1.5 million U.S. Department of Education grant for Civic Renewal through Education for Agency, Tolerance, and Engagement (CREATE). In cooperation with MCS, Ball State will develop the project as an innovative approach to instruction, student learning, and professional development in civics that will integrate American history, geography, government, and media literacy.

“I’m grateful to Dr. Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, Director of Public Education and CEO of MCS, and to the Muncie School Board members, appointed by our University, for their continued leadership,” President Mearns said. “Working together, we are maintaining stabilized enrollment, a positive operating budget, and a compensation plan focused on retaining teachers.”

In other updates to the Board, Trustees learned more about Ball State’s Indiana Connection Lounge—an innovative approach to providing an intimate space on campus where the University hosts alumni, employers, and students to facilitate one-on-one and small-group introductions.

“Kickstarting careers is the ultimate goal,” said Jim McAtee, assistant vice president and executive director for career and professional development at Ball State. “But our Indiana Connection Lounge also provides a unique, intentional space to help students build social capital through connections with alumni and our employer base.”

This month, Indiana University Health was the first employer to engage with students through the Indiana Connection Lounge. While on campus, IU Health interacted with more than 800 students during class visits and met individually with students and faculty in the lounge. Dr. Jeff Bird, President of IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, held an hour-long program with students.

In other matters, the Board heard an update on Ball State student enrollment during Friday’s meeting.

Ball State’s 2022-23 freshman class includes 3,482 students, a 6% increase over last Fall. The freshman class has a high academic profile—an average high school GPA of 3.56, which is the highest of any incoming freshman class in University history.