Topics: Alumni, Commencement, President, Speakers

May 6, 2023

Ball State University on Saturday celebrated its Class of 2023 with a traditional Spring Commencement ceremony held on the Old Quad.

The University conferred nearly 3,000 doctoral, specialist, master’s, and baccalaureate degrees for its Spring 2023 graduates. Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns, speaking from the stage on the Fine Arts Terrace, encouraged the graduates to seek fulfillment and to pursue a life of meaning as they joined the ranks of more than 200,000 graduates who came before them.

“Set professional goals that will make you and your families and your friends proud of your professional contributions—because your contributions have improved the lives of other people. That impact is enduring,” President Mearns said. “I also encourage you to pursue a life of meaning. Life is a gift—a precious gift. And to lead a meaningful life, you should share that gift with people who need you. To lead a meaningful life, you must also embody certain core values, such as the enduring values articulated in the Beneficence Pledge.”

The Spring 2023 graduates on Saturday also heard words of wisdom from Randy Pond ’77, who on Friday night was bestowed by Ball State the President’s Medal of Distinction—one of the University’s highest honors—in recognition of his professional achievements and his generous service.

Mr. Pond, who graduated from the Miller College of Business with degrees in Accounting and Economics, is currently serving as corporate vice president, finance at AMD. Previously, he was chief financial officer and operating officer of Pensando Systems, a start-up company in Silicon Valley, where he also served on the board. Mr. Pond also spent 23 years with Cisco Systems, with the final role of executive vice president of operations, processes, and systems.

In his speech to the graduates, Mr. Pond shared his transformational experience at Ball State and encouraged students to lead engaging, fulfilling lives as they begin their next chapters.

“Take the Beneficence Pledge with you. It will serve you very, very well,” Mr. Pond said. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Ball State was my preparation. The Silicon Valley boom was my opportunity. As you leave here today, I know Ball State has prepared you for your career moving forward. I wish for you nothing but an abundance of opportunities and the wisdom to choose among them well.”

Aside from his notable professional achievements, Mr. Pond has also remained a dedicated Ball State graduate and supporter. He served on the Miller College of Business Executive Advisory Board, received the Miller College of Business Award of Distinction in 2005, was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame in 2010, and received the Accounting Award of Excellence in 2012. He served on the Ball State University Foundation Board of Directors from 2007–22, and was its chair from 2018–19, vice chair from 2017–18, and secretary from 2014–16.

Mr. Pond, who was named Director Emeritus to the Foundation Board in 2022, is currently the chair for the Ball State “Call to Beneficence” campaign.

President Mearns said Mr. Pond’s service to the University and the impact he’s made in the communities in which he’s lived and worked make him a “deserving recipient” of the President’s Medal of Distinction.

“This medal is awarded by the president to women and men who have made significant and unselfish contributions to the advancement of our institution, our community, our state, or our nation,” President Mearns said.

“Whenever I speak to graduates, to our benefactors, and to our prospective students, I tell them the Ball State story,” he continued. “A significant element of that story is that our graduates make the world better by serving others. I tell them about people like Randy Pond.”

Saturday’s Commencement exercises concluded with individual college ceremonies at Emens Auditorium and Worthen Arena.