Topics: Administrative, Alumni, College of Fine Arts

April 22, 2011

Multi-award-winning journalist and Kokomo, Ind., native Steve Kroft will speak at Ball State University's spring graduation exercises on Saturday, May 7.

Kroft, who also will receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters, joins two other distinguished honorees at Commencement. Kent C. "Oz" Nelson, associate of U.S. presidents, business titan, philanthropist, and unflagging friend of Ball State since his graduation in 1959, will be honored with the President's Medal of Distinction, and Marilyn K. Glick, noted Indianapolis arts patron and friend of Ball State, will be presented with an honorary doctorate of art during the weekend's honorary degree dinner on Friday evening.

About 2,900 Ball State undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to receive their diplomas during the traditional outdoor ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. on the Arts Terrace of Old Quad. (In the event of inclement weather, alternate provisions are in place at Worthen Arena.)

Quintessential example

Most recently, Nelson served as national chairman of Ball State Bold, the university's latest and largest capital campaign, which already has surpassed its $200 million goal by raising more than $207 million with a few months remaining before the fundraising effort's scheduled conclusion on June 30.

It is the second time in a row that Nelson has led a major capital campaign to a successful conclusion for Ball State. He also chaired the university's Above and Beyond campaign that raised $113 million in the period 1995-2002, exceeding its goal by more than $23 million.

Nelson retired from his leadership positions at UPS, a Fortune 50 company, at the age of 60 because he wanted to dedicate all of his time to nonprofit work. This selfless act allowed him to apply his formidable business acumen to organizations that have affect millions of lives. His service on the board of directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; United Way of America; and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the world's largest foundation dedicated to helping underprivileged children, are just a few of literally dozens of examples. He has also served as one of Ball State's philanthropic leaders for many years, offering his time, talent and treasure to his alma mater.

His leadership and service as a member of Ball State's Alumni Center Campaign National Steering Committee in the mid-l990s helped result in the university's modern Alumni Center located near Scheumann Stadium.

Formerly a member of the Ball State University Foundation board of directors for 12 years, Nelson remains a lifetime member of Ball State's Fellows Society, Founders Society, Quadrangle Society and Beneficence Society. He has been a member of the Cardinal Varsity Club for more than two decades.

"The President's Medal is one of the highest honors that the university can bestow," said President Jo Ann M. Gora. "It is awarded to those who have rendered great service to the university, made significant contributions to society and demonstrated excellence across many disciplines and interests. Oz Nelson may well be the quintessential example for our newest alumni — indeed all of us — to follow."

Renowned patron of the arts

Glick's honorary doctorate pays tribute to her patronage of the arts, including her relationship with the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which has displayed pieces from her painstakingly gathered collection of stunning pieces of glass art from around the world. It also highlights the thousands of students who have discovered their creativity at the Marilyn K. Glick School of Art, part of the Indianapolis Art Center. And it salutes her support of Ball State and the importance of the Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass — the home for Indiana's first master of fine arts program in glass — to the future of the university.

"We bestow the honorary degree gratefully to a woman who already has honored this university and her community so many times through her generosity, sage counsel and warm friendship," said Gora.

"From bringing symphony music to Indiana's schoolchildren to increasing the interactivity of historical displays at our state museum to establishing a cultural trail in our capital city, through a lifetime of good works, Marilyn Glick has created something of her own work of art — a better informed, more artistic, aware and engaged community in which to live. We all are enriched by Marilyn's enthusiasm for beautiful things and her support of those striving to create them, including thousands of Ball State students. We appreciate this additional opportunity to say thank you."

Glick's collection of glass art started in the 1970s, and the result is now one of the nation's most noteworthy assemblages. She also has made substantial personal leadership contributions to the Indiana State Symphony Society and served for eight years a member of the Indiana Arts Commission, earning recognition — along with her husband, Gene — with the Indiana Governor's Arts Award.