Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA) is the highest award that may be bestowed on an alumnus by the Ball State University Alumni Association (BSUAA). The award selection criteria shall be based upon the nominee’s (1) overall accomplishments (professional achievements and community service), (2) BSU Alumni Association and University involvement (BSUAA Alumni Involvement Index), and (3) consistent support of the University (through financial and/or volunteer efforts). This award shall be all-inclusive and not tied to any one profession. 

It is the desire of the Alumni Council that this award is over and above any other program in operation, such as the university policy of granting honorary degrees; recognition programs in the colleges and constituent societies; the Benny Award for service, and the Alumni Association Coach-of-the-Year Award.

The recipient must hold a degree from Ball State University; however, this requirement may be waived if a qualified nominee has attended Ball State, receives a recommendation from the DAA committee and receives approval of two-thirds of the Alumni Council. 

A maximum of three Distinguished Alumni Awards may be awarded in any one year. The DAA committee is not compelled to award the maximum number annually. Members of the Alumni Council, alumni serving on constituent society boards, Board of Trustees, and Foundation Board members will not be eligible to receive the DAA while serving on their respective boards.

To nominate an alumnus or alumna for the Distinguished Alumni award, please fill out an online nomination form or download a form to print and mail in. For more information, contact Debbie Linegar.

Applications are accepted throughout the year and will remain in consideration for three years.
To be considered for the current year, applications should be received by February 1.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

2015 Recipient
Charles “Charlie” Brown, ’’71, Indianapolis President of Bell American Group, Indianapolis, and member of the management team of its parent company, Flynn Restaurant Group 

When Charlie Brown first viewed the night sky at a planetarium, it forever changed the way he thought about science. 

"When I came to Ball State way back in the 1960s, I originally wanted to be a science teacher because I visited a planetarium as a child,” says Brown, president of Bell American Group, which includes restaurants such as Taco Bell and KFC franchises in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. “Now, I quickly changed my major to focus on business. But when I was approached to help with Ball State’s planetarium renovation, I was instantly taken back to being a 10-year-old and visiting that planetarium in Chicago.” 

In 2012, he and his wife, Dr. Louise Tetrick, provided the $2.2 million lead gift toward the renovation of the Ball State Planetarium as a way to make the university a destination for the next generation of scientists and to inspire young people about science and the world around them. 

Brown admits that his enthusiasm for the project grew tenfold after speaking about the needs for the new facility with astronomy professor Ron Kaitchuck, MS ’72, who has been director of Ball State’s planetarium for nearly 25 years. The original plans called for the older facility to be signi cantly upgraded, but it didn’t take long for a completely new facility to be unveiled. 

“When we sat down, we talked about the project, but we both wanted to make it bigger and better,” says Brown. “Ron and I have such a passion for the project. That is the key to make this happen because the new planetarium will inspire the next few generations.” 

In November 2014, Ball State opened the Charles W. Brown Planetarium, located on the west side of the Cooper Science Complex. The space features an advanced projector system and 52-foot dome, making it among the largest planetariums in the Midwest. And with double its seating capacity, the facility is more easily serving K–12 students, community residents, the Ball State community, and other guests. The number of annual visitors has grown from about 8,000 to a projected 20,000. 

Brown’s philanthropy extends beyond Ball State. In 2011, the successful businessman was the rst recipient of the Charlie Brown Living Legacy Award for his commitment to nonpro t agencies. Major bene ciaries of his expertise, hands-on volunteer time, passion, and nancial resources include Kids’ Voice of Indiana, Taco Bell Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, and the Boys Scouts of America Central Indiana Council. In 2012, Brown and Tetrick donated $1 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana. Their gift remains the largest single donation by an individual to the nonprofit.