Topics: Commencement, President

December 17, 2022

Ball State University on Saturday conferred more than 1,200 doctoral, specialist, master’s, and baccalaureate degrees for its Fall 2022 graduates.

The Commencement ceremony took place at Worthen Arena on Ball State’s campus, where President Geoffrey S. Mearns encouraged the university’s newest alumni to continue to share the values of the Beneficence Pledge.

“Be sincere and speak the truth,” President Mearns said. “Model integrity and value integrity in others. Be grateful and demonstrate your gratitude through your actions. Through your character and commitment, please help us to create a world that is more peaceful and more just. We believe in that brighter future because we believe in you.”

For even more encouragement, the graduates in attendance on Saturday heard from special guest speaker Don Yaeger.

Mr. Yaeger, 1984 Ball State alumnus, is a nationally acclaimed inspirational speaker, longtime former associate editor of Sports Illustrated, and author of over 30 books—11 of which have become New York Times best-sellers. In 2008, Mr. Yaeger departed Sports Illustrated to pursue a career as a public speaker. Since then, his talks on “What Makes the Great Ones Great” have been heard by more than a quarter-million people.

His most recent lecture, “Becoming a Team of Great Teammates,” is based on his best-selling book Teammate. He imparted some guidance to the graduates as they depart the University to lead fulfilling careers and meaningful lives.

“Don’t let what others say about you define who you are or determine your future,” said Mr. Yaeger. “It matters not what others say you can or cannot do—what matters is what you choose to do. It also matters whom you choose to do it with.

“Be intentional about surrounding yourself with people who will take you to the next level,” he continued. “I chose to share it because it has been impactful in my life, and I hope that as you develop your circle, you’ll remember that encouragement and surround yourself with others who will help you fly.”

Ball State on Saturday also bestowed attorney and founder of the Emens Scholars program, J. Richard (Dick) Emens, with an honorary Doctor of Laws, formally recognizing his exemplary leadership and philanthropy to the university’s students.

Mr. Emens founded the Emens Scholars program to honor his father, John R. Emens, the sixth President of Ball State University, and his mother, Aline B. Emens, and their 46 combined years of service to Ball State.

Mr. Emens has served Ball State as Chair of the Ball State Foundation; Chair of the Foundation’s Investment Committee during the financially difficult 2008–2009 recession; Chair of the Scholarship Committee of a National Capital Campaign; and as a member of the Emens Scholars Committee for 27 years. There are now 40 endowed funds at the Ball State Foundation that support the Emens Scholars Program, which annually provides Emens Leadership Scholarships to 15 outstanding high school seniors who have been admitted as incoming freshmen to Ball State.

In a legal career that spans more than 63 years, Mr. Emens specialized in real estate, corporate, and natural resources law. To educate others, he has written more than 100 articles, spoken to more than 5,000 lawyers and landowners, and co-authored the book Family Business Basics.

“In honoring you today, Ball State recognizes your professional success, your service to the Ball State University Foundation, and your extraordinary contributions to our Emens Scholars Program,” President Mearns said. “Your philanthropy and your leadership have impacted the lives of many people, including hundreds of Ball State graduates.”