Paul W. Ferguson began his service as the 15th president of Ball State University in August 2014. President Ferguson has a demonstrated record of transforming universities, especially in the areas of academic quality and student success, increased research and economic development, partnerships between the university and community, and faculty development.
Since his arrival at Ball State University, President Ferguson has initiated a new and refreshed vision for Ball State as well as a refocused strategic plan in preparation for the institution’s 100th anniversary, The Centennial Commitment (18 by ’18). President Ferguson has encouraged campus constituencies to embrace the legacy of beneficence and spirit of entrepreneurship by promoting the good in and for others in a learning environment of creativity, nurtured risk, and success. Under President Ferguson’s leadership, Ball State “aspires to be the model of the most student-centered and community-engaged of the 21st Century public research universities transforming entrepreneurial learners into impactful leaders—committed to improving the quality of life for all.”
Prior to his arrival at Ball State, he served for three years as President of the University of Maine. As President, Dr. Ferguson led a remarkable strategic planning process known as the Blue Sky Project, promoting student success and community service. The Blue Sky Project succeeded quickly as an inclusive, creative, and integrated approach to campus planning and implementation. The university enjoyed unprecedented success in undergraduate student recruitment, retention, and graduation rates. Renewal of the physical plant occurred through the campus-wide Paint, Polish, and Plant Initiative in addition to major facility construction/renovations that included: Memorial Gym and Field House, Estabrooke Hall, Emera Astronomy Center and Stewart Commons, housing the Wyeth Family Studio Art Center with the Art Department’s studio and creative lab space, and the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization (IMRC) Center, with dedicated facilities for the New Media Department. Continued success occurred in faculty-driven research and economic development, especially in transformational National Science Foundation EPSCoR funding for the Sustainability Solutions Initiative and Aquaculture; biofuels derived from woody biomass; and launch of VolturnUS, the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine to be deployed off the coast of North America in partnership with the Department of Energy and diverse corporate partners. Increased success was demonstrated in philanthropy and giving to UMaine by the highest total endowment to date ($252 million) and greatest number of new first time donors in 2013 (2,000 giving $2.7M). The University of Maine remained highly ranked as a Tier 1 university of choice by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes Magazine, The Princeton Review, and Fiske Guide.
Before his arrival in Maine, Dr. Ferguson spent five years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he also was professor of pharmacology and toxicology. He implemented five major initiatives improving academic quality and assessment, student success, faculty development, educational outreach, and enrollment management. The university received national recognition for its academic innovation, culture of assessment, and commitment to continuous quality improvement.
In 1999, Dr. Ferguson came to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as dean of the Graduate College and professor of biology/toxicology. Over the next seven years he contributed to UNLV realizing its vision of becoming a premier metropolitan research university by serving in a number of leadership roles, including senior vice provost and vice president for research and graduate studies. As vice president, he led the continued development of the UNLV research and graduate education enterprise, which experienced annual extramural funding increases from $59 million to $95 million and the number of graduate programs rise from 74 to 108.
An accomplished scholar with a record of achievement spanning more than three decades, President Ferguson began his academic career as assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. There, he established the first undergraduate toxicology program in the South while leading research and outreach efforts aimed at assessing potential risks from chemical exposures throughout Louisiana. After five years working as senior toxicologist for Unocal Corp. in Los Angeles, he returned to ULM, where he received awards for teaching and research excellence as professor and head of the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology. In 1993, he was appointed dean of graduate studies and research, and in 1995, he was named vice provost.
A Southern California native, President Ferguson graduated from Whittier College with a BA in biology (Highest Honors) and later earned a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of California, Davis in 1981. Between his undergraduate and graduate studies, he worked as a research specialist at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center and as a research biologist for Pennwalt Corp. Dr. Ferguson has been continuously certified as a Diplomate of The American Board of Toxicology since 1985.
President Ferguson and his wife, First Lady Grace Ferguson, have been married for 40 years and have three children: Dr. David Ferguson, an Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology at Michigan State University, Dr. Kathryn Bowman, a resident physician living in New York City with her husband, Bobby Bowman, a Doctoral Candidate in cancer biology at Sloan Kettering, and Jenny Desmond, who with her husband, Logan Desmond, are graduate students at Ball State University in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education and Sports Administration, respectively.
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