Ball Honors House Dedication Ceremony

Remarks for President Jo Ann M. Gora
Friday, October 16, 2009, 4:00 p.m.; Ball Honors House

Good afternoon to all of you! I'm Jo Ann Gora, president of Ball State University. It's my pleasure to welcome you on this very special day here at Ball State.

We have several special guests with us today. I want to especially welcome the members of the Ball State Board of Trustees; all the members of the Ball family; the members of the three philanthropic boards associated with that family, the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation, the Ball Brothers Foundation, and the George and Frances Ball Foundation; and the staff of Ball Associates. Also, two former deans of our Honors College are with us today, Arno Wittig and Warren VanderHill. Thank you all for being here.

Today is a day for all of us to celebrate the dedication of the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Honors House and think about the many ways that this special building represents both how our campus is progressing and our enduring partnership with the Ball family. Part of our Education Redefined strategic plan is an initiative to attract increasing numbers of bright, motivated, creative students. We are doing that by every measure, and we are promoting our students' intellectual growth and development through our emphasis on immersive learning, our Emerging Media Initiative, and our new core curriculum. In short, we are committed to helping our students turn knowledge into judgment and judgment into action.

Ball Honors House is just the latest example of that commitment. We want to give these bright and creative students the very best facilities, ones that create a campus culture of living and learning. That standard was expanded when we reopened the completely renovated DeHority Complex as the complement to this building just a few weeks ago.

Today's dedication continues that commitment to building living-learning communities. This building is not a residence hall, of course, but it is an inviting gathering place and center of learning, equipped with the latest technology. It is designed as a relaxing space where honors students will want to gather and spend time, whether they have a class here that day or not. In short, it will serve as the academic home of our Honors College, while DeHority, located across the street, will serve as its residential home.

One of the ways to attract bright, motivated, creative students to Ball State is to increase our Honors College enrollment. This fall has brought us more than 340 freshmen in the Honors College, the largest number in recent memory and an increase of more than 50 students over last year's class. The renovations of DeHority Complex and Ball Honors House bring to life our goal of providing rich, meaningful, and lasting academic and social connections within the honors community on our campus. I know that these two buildings will foster stronger bonds among Honors College students, faculty, and staff.

Ball Honors House is also another lasting example of our continuing partnership with the Ball family. That partnership runs so deep that we have shared the same name for 87 of the 91 years of our university's existence. It was founded as a unique public-private partnership when the five Ball brothers purchased a teacher education school during an economic downturn. That partnership has continued for more than nine decades and has led to a university that offers close to 300 degree programs to more than 21,000 students--quite a return on that original investment.

No one has shown more commitment to the culture of living and learning I've described than Ed and Virginia Ball. The evidence of that commitment can be seen across this campus. The Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry was really the birthplace of immersive learning at Ball State, and interdisciplinary student teams at the center continue to tackle important issues that confront businesses and communities all across the state. The Edmund F. Ball Communication Building is the home not just of our award-winning public broadcast stations, but also of telecommunication facilities that are key to our Emerging Media Initiative and to Ball State's increasing reputation as "the nation's best film school without a film school."

But no building represents this living-learning environment more than this one. This, of course, was Ed and Virginia's home and they were always pleased about the fact that it was right next to the campus they loved. They took frequent evening walks on campus. Despite responsibilities that often took them out of town, they walked across the street to every event in Emens Auditorium they could attend. Virginia often invited faculty to come over for a friendly game of tennis. For years, a Ball State graduate student actually lived here, in a small apartment at the back of the house. Many alumni have reminisced with me about a conversation they shared with Ed and Virginia, either when they saw them on campus or here over a meal or a cup of tea.

Today's dedication is of a wonderful new facility for the Honors College and for Ball State University. But this ceremony also celebrates the many memories that were made in this home and the commitment to the vital, learning lifestyle that Ed and Virginia demonstrated, one that deeply affected so many Ball State students and faculty.

That is what has made the biggest impression on me in my years as Ball State president. The Ball family's philanthropy has brought the university many outstanding buildings, faculty, and students. Yet it is their tireless commitment to teaching and learning that has attracted other dedicated and talented people to Ball State. In the process, the Ball family's values have become this university's values. Here to talk about the Ball family's support of Ball State is Frank Ball, president of the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation.

Thank you, Frank. Many of you were here 13 months ago when we publicly announced our $200 million Ball State Bold capital campaign, and many of you know that we already have more than $177 million toward that goal. The renovation of this home was one of that campaign's important objectives. We were, of course, delighted when we received the $1 million dollar grant from the foundation, but since it was a challenge grant, it required significant giving from others who love Ball State. To tell us how our alumni and friends responded, it's my pleasure to introduce Steve Anderson, chair of the Honors House Campaign.

Thank you, Steve. In just a few moments, you will be able to enjoy a reception and tours of Ball Honors House. For those of you who have been in Ed and Virginia's home before, there are some things that have changed. The tennis court is gone. The garage is now a classroom.

Here is what you will see. Three classrooms, including two that are technologically state of the art. Several administrative offices, for deans, academic advisors, and the director of national and international scholarships, among others. A new space for outdoor activities and receptions as well as a lovely patio. In short, I think you will find that while some things will look different, the spirit of an open, inviting place to stimulate discussion and learning so valued by Ed and Virginia Ball is very much the same.

We have many people to thank today for this beautifully renovated facility. Please stand as I call your name so that we may recognize you.

From the architectural firm of Rundell Ernstberger and Associates, Deane Rundell was principal-in-charge and Jeff Maydack was the associate. From our contractors, The Gale Tschuor Company, president Mike Tschuor was project manager and Brad Dillon was field supervisor. And from Terstep Company, we thank owner Steve Garrett, project manager Edward Heffelmire, and field supervisor Dustin Brookshire. All Indiana companies, I'm happy to say.

There are several people at Ball State who have been integral to this renovation. From the Office of Facilities Planning and Management, Kevin Kenyon is associate vice president; Tanner Jordan Underwood is project architect; Greg Graham is director of planning; Jim Lowe is director of engineering and operations; Gary Canaday is manager of campus construction; Ross Walter is superintendent of building maintenance; Frank Koenker is maintenance supervisor; Mike Planton is the associate director for landscaping and environmental management; Carlos Garcia is landscape services supervisor; and Daniel Stephenson is the interior designer. Finally, Tom Kinghorn, former vice president for business affairs, Randy Howard, current vice president for business affairs, and Daniel Garreth, director of capital finance and finance systems, were instrumental in the renovation of this building. Thank you all, and you may be seated.

It's now my pleasure to introduce the president of the Ball State Board of Trustees, Tom DeWeese.