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Emerging Media Initiative

A major investment in emerging media by Ball State University promises to provide critically needed human capital and foster economic development across the state and region.

The new Emerging Media Initiative (EMI) was unveiled by President Jo Ann M. Gora in December.

“A decade ago, Google wasn’t even a blip on the business radar, let alone an Internet icon and a new verb in our vocabulary,” says Gora. “Five years ago, YouTube had yet to distribute its first video. And even a year ago, if we were talking about a Surface, you would have thought we were talking about the kitchen counter instead of a breakthrough user interface.

“At the rate of change we’re experiencing today, ‘keeping pace’ is falling behind. We don’t want to just help manage the changing economic landscape or merely to try to anticipate that change. We want to create it, and with this investment, we are focusing our historic strengths in emerging media on addressing the human capital and economic needs of the state. The impact should be felt in business, communications, education, public and social services, health and medicine, and many other fields.”

Ball State plans to invest $17.7 million in institutional and new private resources in four components: leadership and sustainability, faculty and research, student opportunities, and engagement and economic development.

The initiative will be led by Dave Ferguson, recently appointed associate vice president for emerging media. Ferguson also is the executive director of the Center for Media Design (CMD), funded by two $20 million grants from Lilly Endowment Inc. CMD is widely recognized for leadership in applied research, interdisciplinary projects in digital media design, digital content development, and media use research.

EMI will emphasize emerging media in attracting and retaining faculty across the university.  Included will be the establishment of an Emerging Media Faculty Fellows program, through which the university will provide incentives and start-up funding for the hiring of new faculty—across the curriculum—with expertise in the study and use of emerging media.

In addition, EMI will encourage and enable more student involvement in emerging media, starting with establishment of a new scholarship: the Randy Pond Emerging Media Scholars program to recruit talented students.

Private gifts such as Pond’s help Ball State prepare its students for a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace. Our students will learn to use technology and digital content to enhance work, play, and learning, to broaden access to information, and to enrich personal connection by eliminating the constraints of time and location.

Pond, a 1977 graduate of Ball State, is executive vice president of operations for Cisco Systems in San Jose, California. His recent $1 million gift to Ball State Bold will underwrite the new scholarships.

At the same time, additional funds will be dedicated to help strengthen the university’s award-winning student Digital Corps —Indiana’s only Apple-certified training team. EMI will promote student and faculty innovation by funding interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial projects with potential for commercialization opportunities.