Ball State University will appoint Dr. James Buss as its new Honors College dean, President Geoffrey S. Mearns announced. Dr. Buss will succeed Dr. John Emert, who is retiring from the University on May 31, and will begin his new role June 19.
Dr. Buss is currently the dean of the Honors College at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Ky., where he also serves as interim associate provost. He has more than 15 years of professional experience in higher education, including the last seven years as a founding dean of two new honors college programs at Salisbury University and Northern Kentucky, respectively.
“After a competitive national search, I am excited to welcome Dr. Buss as Ball State University’s new Honors College dean,” President Mearns said. “Throughout the hiring process, the search committee was impressed by Dr. Buss’ significant experience in building and shaping successful honors college programming; but, more importantly, he clearly shares Ball State’s values— excellence, innovation, courage, integrity, inclusiveness, social responsibility, and gratitude. I am confident that Dr. Buss will build upon our Honors College’s strong foundation of providing stimulating and comprehensive academic, leadership, and social experiences for our University’s high-ability students.”
As Honors College dean at Ball State, Dr. Buss will be responsible for providing students of high academic promise and achievement a premier, accessible undergraduate experience in which faculty, staff, students, and graduates are engaged in scholarship, creative endeavors, and societal impact that enhance the University’s various regional and professional communities.
Dr. Buss will oversee the planning, directing, and coordinating of the operational, personnel, budgetary, and fundraising activities of Ball State’s Honors College, which has grown to more than 1,000 students from all seven of the University’s academic colleges. He will also provide leadership and direction in the development and implementation of curricula and academic programming.
“I am extremely grateful to President Mearns, Provost Susana Rivera-Mills, the search committee, and the entire leadership team at Ball State University for affording me this terrific opportunity,” Dr. Buss said. “Early in the hiring process, it became clear to me that Ball State shares my passion for and commitment to inclusive excellence and student success. I look forward to the opportunity to lead Ball State’s well-established Honors College with vision and collaboration to continue to serve the mission of the University and advance the goals of constituents from across campus.”
Dr. Buss began his academic career in 2007 at his alma mater, Bowling Green State University, where he served as visiting instructor of history. He then spent six years at Oklahoma City University—serving as director of the University Honors Program from 2012-13—before taking over as the director of the Thomas E. Bellavance Honors Program at Salisbury University.
In 2016, Dr. Buss became the founding dean of the Honors College at Salisbury, a position he held for three years before taking on the same role at Northern Kentucky in 2018. While at Northern Kentucky, Dr. Buss implemented a new honors admissions and recruitment process that resulted in a 50-percent increase in applicants and a near-50-percent increase in enrollment. Since 2018, Northern Kentucky’s Honors College has also more than doubled the number and percentage of students from underserved populations, utilizing new programming and a coordinated care model that has led to Black and Hispanic/Latino retention rates 20 to 30 percentage points higher than university averages for those same populations.
In 2020, Dr. Buss became the founder and general manager of Northern Kentucky’s varsity esports program. Last August, he was named to the “Top 25 Notable Leaders in Higher Education” list by Movers & Makers magazine in Cincinnati, earning recognition in the Greater Cincinnati Region within the “Up-and-Coming Younger Leaders” category.
Dr. Buss earned his bachelor’s (History) and master’s (Policy History) degrees from Bowling Green. He earned his doctorate (History) from Purdue University in 2007.