Janice Ball Fisher, 1916-2010

Topics: College of Applied Sciences and Technology, Athletics, President

November 4, 2010

The Ball State community mourns the passing of longtime friend and benefactor of the university, Janice Ball Fisher. The daughter of Edmund Burke and Bertha Ball and the last surviving member of the second generation of the Ball family, for whom the university is named, she died Oct. 5, slightly more than a year after the death of her husband, John Fisher, also an enduring figure in the history of Ball State.

 

Together through the decades, the Fishers helped to advance both the academic aspirations of Ball State and the quality of its facilities through their ongoing personal involvement in the life of the university and their many gifts supporting a variety of educational and campus improvement initiatives.

Prominent examples of the Fishers' munificence include a $2 million gift in 1988 that established the John and Janice Fisher Chair in Exercise Science, a benefaction that also helped finance the construction of Worthen Arena. In recognition of their kindness, the university renamed its existing wellness institute the John and Janice Fisher Institute for Wellness and Gerontology.

In 2000, the Fishers also donated $4.35 million to Ball State to create the Fisher Distinguished Professorship in Wellness and Gerontology as well as an endowed chair in the same field. The latter gift also helped the university develop a community wellness outreach program and expand Scheumann Stadium to include the Fisher Training Complex. 

"Those of us who had the great pleasure to know John and Janice personally appreciate that, while she was happy to have him serve as the public face of their generosity, she was a full partner in their decisions to give to Ball State and the many other causes they supported during long lives of philanthropy," said President Jo Ann M. Gora. "I'm reminded of the great American essayist, Washington Irving, who observed, 'There is in every true woman's heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes' when the need is greatest. In many ways, I believe that certainly is true of Janice Fisher, for which the university and so many others in our community are forever grateful. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Ball and Fisher families on her passing."

The Fishers' gift establishing the Fisher Chair in Exercise Science was the largest private donation to Ball State during the Wings for the Future capital campaign, which concluded in 1992 having raised more than $44 million. The couple also was involved extensively in the university's subsequent Above and Beyond fundraising effort (John serving as a member of the executive committee) and current Ball State Bold campaign that quickly is approaching its $200 million goal.

"In terms both personal and financial, the Fishers' contributions to Ball State have been instrumental to the university's long term success," reflected Ben Hancock, vice president for university advancement. "On this sad occasion, we mark the end of an important chapter in that history. But even now, new chapters are being written, and I am confident that future generations of Ball State students, faculty and staff will be able to trace their genesis to the generosity of Janice and John Fisher."

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