Topics: Alumni, College of Applied Sciences and Technology, Emerging Media, Administrative, Athletics

April 19, 2010

Angela Ahrendts' march to this year's graduation platform at Ball State will be longer than that for most commencement speakers — about two weeks longer.

In a fresh display of the passion for innovation that helped her rise through the international fashion world to become chief executive officer of British global luxury brand Burberry, as well as Ball State's expanding use of emerging media, Ahrendts will engage with a group of graduating seniors via a live Web chat on Friday, April 23, two weeks ahead of the annual spring Commencement exercises scheduled for Saturday, May 8.

The Ball State alumna will host the 10:30 a.m. EDT conversation from Burberry's London headquarters in Horseferry House, just steps from the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

During the succeeding fortnight, Ahrents, who'll receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at graduation, also will be using the social networking site Twitter to engage in a dialogue with seniors about what inspires and motivates her.

President Jo Ann M. Gora, in a campuswide e-mail, has encouraged this year's graduates to participate in this digital dialogue.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity for members of the Class of 2010 not only to hear from this year's graduation speaker, but actually to engage with her," said Gora.

"Angela has a remarkable story. It's a path that led from the classrooms of Ball State to the boardroom of Burberry. She has blazed a trail of innovation throughout her career. I'm excited that she'll be connecting with our students through emerging media at this important crossroads in their lives. She will hear from them and provide a valuable perspective. Her commencement address will be informed by these connections. We couldn't be more proud of Angela and very much look forward to her return to her alma

Fashion goes Facebook

Burberry is one of the 100 largest companies in the U.K. and last year was recognized by Interbrand as one of the top 100 brands in the world. Under Ahrendts' stewardship, it has established a firm reputation at the forefront of marrying excellence in design and innovation and is pioneering the use of digital technology in the luxury industry. It recently broke new ground in beaming its runway show from London Fashion Week live and in 3-D to five locations around the globe, and last month, it became the first luxury brand to attract more than 1 million fans on Facebook.

Raised in New Palestine, Ind., Ahrendts earned her bachelor's degree from Ball State and, after relocating to New York City, progressed quickly through a series of senior management positions, including executive vice president of Henri Bendel and, from 1989 to 1996, president of Donna Karan International.

Ahrendts moved to Liz Claiborne Inc. in 1998, becoming executive vice president and playing a part in diversifying the corporation's portfolio from 10 to 41 brands. She also directed a number of new product launches and was responsible for many international growth and innovative supply chain initiatives at the Fortune 500 company.

She joined Burberry in January 2006. Together with Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey, she also is co-founder of the Burberry Foundation, committed to directing global resources in favor of helping young people realize their potential and achieve their goals through their individual talents and creativity.

Ahrendts, a recipient of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Alumni Award of Achievement in 2003, was included on the Forbes list of the business world's 100 Most Powerful Women in 2006 and 2007. She also was among Fortune magazine's International Power 50 in 2007 and 2008. This year she was named European Business Leader of the Future at the CNBC European Business Leaders Awards.

Giving his all

Also included in this year's graduation platform party is longtime friend and benefactor of the university John Scheumann, who will receive the President's Medal of Distinction. The honorary degree and President's Medal are the two highest honors that Ball State can bestow.

A former standout defensive tackle for the Cardinals' football team, Scheumann graduated from Ball State in 1971 with a degree in accounting. He later co-founded Crossmann Communities, a regional homebuilder based in Indianapolis that once earned a spot among Forbes magazine's "200 Best Small Companies in America." The Lafayette, Ind., native served as the company's chairman and chief executive officer for many years before its merger with Beazer Homes USA Inc. He continues to be involved in several real estate and development ventures as chairman and CEO of Tempest Homes LLC.

Scheumann Stadium, home of the football Cardinals, is named in his honor and that of his wife, June, in recognition of their lead gift of $4 million to Drive to Distinction: The Ball State Stadium Campaign in 2005. Earlier, the couple donated $1 million toward construction of the adjoining football training facility, as well as another $700,000 for the installation in 1997 of a new artificial surface facility used by both the football and varsity field hockey teams.

In addition to his continuing efforts on behalf of Ball State — including multiple contributions to the university's residential property management program — John Scheumann also supports a variety of organizations providing education, recreation and social development opportunities for young people through the Scheumann Foundation Inc., established in 2002 as an independent foundation giving primarily to secondary schools as well as local YMCA and YWCA organizations throughout Indiana.

He serves as a member of the board of directors of the Lafayette Parks Foundation as well as the investment board of trustees of Family Services Inc. The longtime homebuilder also is active in Habitat for Humanity.

"In the long history of Ball State, it is difficult to imagine a greater friend of the university or better example to our students than John Scheumann," said Gora. "And though he hung up his football uniform years ago, in true Cardinals spirit John continues to give his all for his alma mater through his many generous gifts in support of the academic mission of the institution and our student-athletes. We are extremely fortunate and grateful that John has chosen to remain an integral part of the Ball State team — indeed, one of our 'most valuable players' — as we hope to demonstrate by presenting him with the President's Medal of Distinction."

Previously, Scheumann was honored by Ball State in 1998 with the Distinguished Alumni Award and, in 2001, with the Miller College of Business Alumni Award of Distinction.

Approximately 2,600 students at the associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels are expected to receive their diplomas at this year's spring graduation ceremony, adding to the university's phalanx of more than 152,000 active and engaged alumni around the world.

For more information and a complete schedule of Commencement-related events, please visit