February 22, 2010
A man and a family connected to Ball State University throughout its 91-year history were recognized again today with the naming of the campus' original structure as the Frank A. Bracken Administration Building. The university's Board of Trustees approved the move on the occasion of Bracken's 30th anniversary as a member of Ball State's governing body — the longest term of service in its history.
Including his father, Alexander M. Bracken, who served as board president for 22 of his 26 years on the panel, his grandfather, Frank C. Ball, and his great-uncle, George A. Ball, a member of Frank Bracken's family has served on the university's Board of Trustees from the time the five Ball brothers founded the institution until today.
Like his father, Frank Bracken also served as board president for seven years prior to his stepping down in 1989 in order to accept an appointment by then-President George H.W. Bush to be undersecretary of the interior. He has held his current post as the board's vice president for 18 years.
For most of that time, he also served as a member of the George and Frances Ball Foundation Board, through which and his own philanthropy a total of $40 million has been given or pledged to Ball State.
Bracken Administration Building joins Bracken Library (named for Alexander M.) and Bracken House, Frank Bracken's childhood home and now the university president's official residence, as lasting tributes to the philanthropy of a remarkable Muncie and Ball State family.
"Although his record longevity on the Board of Trustees is cause enough for celebration, Frank Bracken's service to Ball State goes much deeper than just his board membership," said President Jo Ann M. Gora, who came to Ball State in 2004 at the invitation of a search committee chaired by Bracken. "During the past 25 years, he also has been a member of the Ball State University Foundation Board and served on the executive committees of Ball State's last two capital campaigns, Ball State Bold and Above and Beyond, which together have raised more than $300 million so far for the university.
"Frank's leadership has been integral to Ball State's growth into a comprehensive and cutting-edge university for the 21st century. He and his family have left an indelible mark on this institution, enriching the lives of Ball State faculty and students for generations past, present and future. I commend the board members for their wisdom in approving this naming opportunity and join them in congratulating Frank on this richly deserved recognition."
Built in 1898-99 for a total of $33,000, the neoclassical Administration Building is the oldest building on Ball State's campus. Originally constructed to house the Eastern Indiana Normal School for teachers, a precursor to Ball State, it once included classrooms, laboratories, the school's library and bookstore as well as administrative and faculty offices.
One of five original campus buildings transferred to the state of Indiana by the Ball brothers in 1918, after their purchase of the foreclosed upon teacher training school, the Administration Building underwent an extensive, $3 million renovation in 1999. It remains central to the operation of Ball State today, as the location of the president's office, Business Affairs, Enrollment, Marketing and Communications, Institutional Advancement and other major administrative offices.
"It's a challenging thing, trying to determine the proper recognition for an individual and a family who have meant so much to the success of the university," reflected Thomas L. DeWeese, current board president. "With the naming of the Frank A. Bracken Administration Building, we continue to ensure that the contributions of Frank and his family are forever a major part of the telling of the Ball State story. As his friend and colleague of many years, I find it truly gratifying to see Frank take a place alongside his father in terms of this lasting campus tribute."
During Frank Bracken's time as a member of the Board of Trustees, the university's annual enrollment has swelled by nearly 4,000 students, while the number of degree programs offered has more than tripled, from 86 in 1980 to nearly 300 today. More than a dozen major building projects also have been completed on campus during Bracken's 30-year tenure.