Trustees approve honorary degree for U.N. Under-Secretary-General and alumnus Jeffrey Feltman, room and board rates

Topics: Administrative, Athletics

February 8, 2013

The Ball State University Board of Trustees has approved an honorary doctor of laws degree for United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey D. Feltman in recognition of his long and distinguished career in public service.

Feltman, who earned his bachelor of science in history and art from Ball State in 1981, will address Ball State’s Class of 2013 at the May Commencement ceremony.

As head of the U.N. Department of Political Affairs, Feltman oversees the U.N.’s diplomatic efforts to prevent and mitigate conflict around the world. Earlier in his career, he held numerous administrative and diplomatic posts in the U.S Department of State, including ambassador to Lebanon from 2004 to 2008. Immediately before his assignment to the U.N., he served as the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs with the rank of career minister. Feltman’s contributions have been felt around the globe, as he has served in esteemed positions affecting Haiti, Hungary, Israel, Tunisia and Iraq, as well as Eastern and Central Europe.

“We are proud to recognize Ambassador Feltman’s determination to positively influence peace and prosperity in some of the world’s most politically charged regions,” said President Jo Ann M. Gora. “It is an honor to welcome such a distinguished alumnus back to campus and thank him for his contributions around the globe.”

The board also approved an average 1.87 percent increase in room and board rates. The increases range, by plan option, from 0 percent for returning students on the premium plan to 2.35 percent for new students. The new rates are expected to place Ball State room and board rates in the bottom half among similar schools in Indiana and the Mid-American Conference. Randy Howard, vice president for business affairs, noted that this is another in a series of years that rate increases have remained below ordinary inflation.

“Last year, our rate increase of 1.6 percent was the lowest percentage increase since 1978. This year’s is just a tick above that,” said Howard. “Our commitment to providing best-in-class living-learning environments at the most affordable price possible makes living on campus very attractive. Both formal surveys and informal input from current and prospective students and parents tell us that the majority of our students are very pleased with their housing and dining experiences, thanks in large part to our outstanding housing and dining staffs and exceptional facilities.”

The university’s early retirement and related programs also received an update in anticipation of being discontinued on June 30, 2013, as previously affirmed by the board in September 2011.

The updated plan is immediately available to any retirement-eligible employee. For eligible faculty and professional employees, it provides for a severance payment equal to 15 percent of the employee’s gross pay in the year of retirement, plus the option of a new prepaid retiree life insurance program or a lump sum cash settlement payment in lieu of the prepaid retiree life insurance. Those who choose the prepaid retiree life insurance would not be required to pay any premiums for life. Alternatively, retirees may choose a cash settlement equal to 40 percent of the life insurance to which he or she would otherwise be entitled following retirement.

Consistent with existing programs, service and staff employees are not eligible for the severance payment but eligible employees can choose between the prepaid retiree life insurance program or the cash settlement payment in lieu of the life insurance. In addition, up to $2,000 of either the severance pay or the cash settlement in lieu of life insurance may count toward the retirement benefits of eligible employees.

The deadline for enrolling has been extended to 45 days prior to the desired retirement date, but not later than May 15, 2013.

“This is a win-win for retirement eligible employees and the university,” said Howard. “There are likely employees who have been thinking about taking advantage of this program, and we wanted to provide just a little more incentive to enroll before it is discontinued in June. We’ve felt for some time that this program is no longer needed. As we anticipate a challenging budget biennium, the savings and predictability that come from discontinuing the program suggest now is the time.”

The trustees also received an update from Bill Scholl, director of intercollegiate athletics, on the Cardinals’ academic progress rates (APR). “We are proud that 11 of our 19 teams earned a perfect single-year score of 1,000 and all of our teams posted strong multiyear scores,” said Scholl. “What’s especially impressive is that women’s cross country and women’s volleyball teams achieved perfect multiyear scores. This kind of sustained academic performance is significant and a point of pride for us all.” Scholl added that the football team posted its highest single-year APR score in three years. APR is determined by a formula that considers academic eligibility and retention and graduation rates.

In other business, the board moved to accept the university’s 2011-12 financial report, submitted with an unqualified opinion from the State Board of Accounts. The board also approved an administrative revision to the university’s intellectual property policy and received an overview of the university’s insurance policies and procedures.

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