U.S. News lauds innovative programs, initiatives

Topics: Miller College of Business, Administrative

August 19, 2010

 Ball State University's efforts to transform its campus through innovative changes to academic programs and facilities as well as its continuing focus on ensuring first-year students' success have been praised by U.S. News & World Report in the publication's annual rankings.

"America's Best Colleges," released Aug. 17 by the national news magazine, also ranked Ball State's undergraduate entrepreneurship program as 10th best in the nation. The rankings are based on a spring 2010 peer survey of deans and senior faculty at institutions nationwide and include more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools.

"We are pleased with Ball State's multiple citations by U.S. News and World Report," said Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora. "Our ranking in the list of up-and-coming schools confirms that our innovative approach to everything from academics to campus facilities is being recognized."

In the "Up-and-Comers" category, Ball State was among several universities tying for 20th place among institutions "that recently made the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus or facilities."

Ball State's efforts to integrate first-year students to campus through a variety of programs, including Freshman Connections, were lauded by the magazine for the seventh consecutive year. The university was listed among 23 institutions that excel in making students feel connected to the campus by building into the curriculum first-year seminars or other academic programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty or staff on a regular basis.

"Increasing Ball State's retention rate — last year's freshmen who are coming back as sophomores — is an important element of our Education Redefined strategic plan," Gora said. "We project that our retention rate this fall will be 79.5 percent. That is up more than 5 percentage points from five years ago, allowing us to be highly selective and to raise our admission standards."

Entrepreneurship ranked 10th

The university's nationally recognized entrepreneurship program, which features a final pass-or-fail class, was tied with the University of North Carolina for 10th place. Since 1999, U.S. News has consistently ranked the program in the top 10.

"Another important objective in our strategic plan is increasing our number of nationally ranked programs," Gora said. "So I was proud to see our undergraduate entrepreneurship program once again listed in U.S. News' top 10. The program emphasizes the innovative thinking we are encouraging in all Ball State students, which is one reason we now offer an entrepreneurship minor, open to students of any major."

Created in 1983, the entrepreneurship program is nationally recognized as the ultimate entrepreneurial experience based on its New Venture Creation course, the last class in the sequence that requires seniors to put their degrees on the line while their business plans are analyzed by a group of top business leaders just days before commencement. Nearly 200 businesses have been started by entrepreneurship graduates in the last 27 years.

The program is undergoing a transformation with an infusion of technological advancements through Military 2 Market (M2M), a partnership between Ball State, the Department of Defense and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane), which operates a research-centered facility about 70 miles southwest of Indianapolis.

Students in the program are given access to government patents and intellectual property and challenged to find commercial opportunities for the technologies, explained Michael Goldsby, the Entrepreneurship Center's executive director and Stoops distinguished professor of entrepreneurship. The center is a component of the Miller College of Business.

"Crane has provided technologies used in the field and is working with us to find commercial opportunities in the private sector," he said. "This gives students access to world class technology and interaction with top engineers and research scientists. Our students learn how to work with technology and develop the marketing and financing needs to bring the products to market. This is an intense but exciting journey we put the students through, and they are embracing it with enthusiasm and hard work."

The recognitions from U.S. News follow another accolade. For the sixth year, Ball State was named one of the best universities in the Midwest by The Princeton Review.

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