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Just like it’s hard to put your finger on what makes a flower beautiful, a vista breathtaking, or a walk through a park nourishing, it’s hard to pin down one thing that makes the Department of Landscape Architecture rank consistently high among other similar programs year after year.

For department chair Malcolm Cairns, who was named a Landscape Architecture Educator of the Year by America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools, it comes from what he thinks is normal: a challenging curriculum and dedicated students.

The program, which is currently ranked by Design Intelligence as the fourth best undergraduate program in the nation and the best in the Midwest, includes hot-button ideas such as environmental stewardship and creative thinking. The program historically is filled with top-notch students. About 140 students are chosen each year from a pool of 400 to 450 applications, and 20 to 25 percent of the students are from outside Indiana.

“It is our graduates and practitioners that are the mark of our success,” says Cairns.

Our graduates are presidents of four state American Society of Landscape Architects associations. But with this solid foundation, it should be no surprise that Ball State is creating leaders.