Topics: Administrative, Scholarships

July 23, 2010

Meeting the financial challenges of attending college just got easier for many prospective Ball State students, after the university's Board of Trustees voted July 23 to establish a new Supplemental Room and Board Scholarship.

Many Ball State students receive external scholarships that cover any tuition charges remaining after institutional support is applied. Many of these external scholarships, such as those provided by the 21st Century Scholars Program, are need-based aid that helps ensure Indiana families can afford a college education.

Prior to the board's action, Ball State offered institutional aid such as its Presidential Scholarship to a large share of these same students. But, since these internal awards were restricted previously to tuition and fees, they did not really benefit those students who already would have fully funded external scholarships. Effective with the coming fall semester, the new supplemental scholarships will instead provide $3,000 annually to qualifying students to help defray room and board costs.

Tom Taylor, vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications, said the supplemental room and board scholarship follows a similar concept as the Goodall Award but is applied on a much larger scale. Created in 2009 and named for two longtime friends of the university, the Hurley and Fredine Goodall 21st Century Scholars Freshman Book Award provides local Muncie high school graduates with $1,000 to assist them with the important transition from high school to college.

In anticipation of the board's consideration, Taylor said, "This proposal demonstrates again Ball State's commitment to admitting bright, high-achieving students and doing all that it can to encourage their enrollment and success on campus. The trustees' expression of support for this initiative means that a Ball State education now is more attainable for a greater number of students."

The board members also approved a proposal to modify several international scholarship programs.

"Ball State set up these programs at different times, sometimes decades ago, in order to attract international students," explained Randall Howard, vice president for business affairs and treasurer. "As part of its strategic plan, the university has undertaken significant initiatives to increase international enrollment. Our initiatives are working and we now can restructure these awards in order to save limited resources, continue to attract international students and promote study abroad opportunities for our students."

Strategically aligned

At its May 7 session, the board members approved a general fund budget plan for 2010-11. That plan set the main parameters for the operating budgets of the university for the current fiscal year. Today, the board members gave final passage to the university's general fund and auxiliary budgets for the year before also taking up its capital and operating appropriations requests for the Indiana General Assembly's 2011-13 biennium.

In accordance with directions from state budget officials, the university could not ask for baseline increases associated with inflation for items such as utilities, salaries, health care and other expenses, Howard said. But the university will seek an $833,000 annual net increase in state funding associated with five performance measures in which the university participates. These categories, set out in the state's Reaching Higher plan for education, include growth in dual enrollment credits, overall degree production, four-year degree production, low-income degree production and research.

The state currently is trying to "incentivize" these outcome measures for its public universities, said Howard, adding that "Ball State is in support of these performance criteria and believes its strategic plan is in alignment with the goals. The university is confident that its long-term trends will support these outcomes and we will continue to implement new initiatives to advance their realization."

Capital request

Ball State's 2011-13 capital request, meanwhile, includes funding for a $22 million renovation of the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) and a $10 million renewal of the tunnel systems on campus.

Indiana's only state-supported college of architecture, CAP consistently is recognized for its nationally ranked programs in architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning. However, available space in the studio-oriented design college currently constrains possible enrollment.

The CAP building as it exists today is the result of a 1980 expansion of an original, award-winning design constructed in 1972.

The proposed renovation project would add much needed studio space — permitting future enrollment expansion — while also allowing for more efficient use of the existing structure. It would address other program needs identified by CAP leadership and faculty and update the building's mechanical systems.

The proposed renewal of the tunnel system, parts of which date to the 1930s and '40s, would allow the university to install additional tunnels "at strategic and optimum locations" throughout campus, Howard said. The tunnels contain utility systems such as steam, condensate return, chilled water and compressed air as well as power and communications cables. Howard indicated most of the tunnels are now full, making repairs costly and difficult and the installation of additional utility systems impossible.

Virtual boardroom

While having all the appearances of a normal board meeting, the members' latest deliberations were exceptional for their unusual location: not the traditional Founder's Room setting of Pittenger Student Center, but rather Ball State's new virtual studio, located within University Teleplex in the Robert Bell Building.

Incorporating the latest in green screen compositing hardware and software, which allows film and video producers to place persons and objects in a wide array of imagined, computer-generated (CG) virtual environments, the 2,400-square-foot facility is being hailed by industry observers such as Campus Technology magazine as being among the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in the nation. It will be used to train Ball State broadcast students in the use of leading-edge technology and to help market the university's production services to commercial customers throughout Indiana and the Midwest.

The meeting convened in a virtual news studio designed by students in the College of Architecture and Planning.