Topics: Alumni, Immersive Learning, Miller College of Business

September 28, 2007

Immersive learning experiences at Ball State University will increase, thanks to a recent $1 million gift from the Phyllis and Hamer Shafer Foundation.

"We are delighted that the Shafers have continued their long-standing support of Ball State with a gift for this purpose," said Ball State President Jo Ann Gora. "Our immersive learning experiences are already substantial, but providing one for each undergraduate student is an integral part of our strategic plan. This gift, along with several others in recent months, enables us to increase those opportunities. The Shafers are particularly pleased to fund these immersive learning fellowships as they provide a bridge that connects bright, curious students with life-changing experiences."

Immersive learning pairs interdisciplinary groups of students with a faculty mentor. The students drive the learning process as they examine a real-world problem and determine a real-world solution for it. Last year, immersive learning projects took student-faculty teams to communities throughout the state of Indiana.

The $1 million gift is just the latest in a long history of philanthropy to Ball State for the Shafers. The most visible symbol of their generosity is Shafer Tower, built in 2001.

The tallest structure in Delaware County, Shafer Tower rises 150 feet above McKinley Avenue, near the new David Letterman Communication and Media Building at the north end of campus.

Every 15 minutes, 48 custom-made bells covering four octaves ring out across campus from the carillon tower. The bells are programmed to chime daily, but for Homecoming, Commencement and other special occasions, a musician climbs the tower, where a keyboard attached to cables is used to strike the bells and produce music.

The Shafers, both Ball State graduates, also established the Sally C. Gibson Memorial Scholarship in 1993. In memory of Gibson, a university graduate who was president of the Ball State Nursing Alumni Association, the scholarship goes annually to a nontraditional student accepted into the nursing program, with preference given to those who are interested in direct patient care.

The Shafers owned Muncie Power Products for many years before their retirement. They remain active both with the company and in the Muncie community.

The Shafers were inducted into the university's Miller College of Business Hall of Fame in 1987. Phyllis Shafer served on the Ball State Foundation Board of Directors for nearly 30 years, including 15 as its chair. She has received the Alumni Association's Benny Award and the President's Medal of Distinction for her outstanding service to the university. Hamer Shafer received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Ball State in 1980 for his corporate, civic and community leadership.

By Greg Wright