Years of hard work and sacrifice paid off today for the more than 3,100 graduates and their families celebrating commencement at Ball State.
Guests filled Worthen Arena for the university’s 179th ceremony, where graduates were challenged by keynote speaker Teresa S. Lubbers, commissioner of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, to embrace the future, take risks and encourage others to complete their schooling.
“Knowledge gained without service rendered is not the purpose of education,” Lubbers said. “Help someone without knowing how it will turn out. Do something outside your comfort zone.”
Watch highlights from the main ceremony.
Trustee Hollis Hughes recognized for service
The graduates also received special instruction from Hollis E. Hughes Jr., ’65 MA ’72, who was awarded a President’s Medal of Distinction by Interim President Terry King.
Hughes retired from the Board of Trustees in December after 28 years of service. He served as president (2011-14) and as secretary (2006-11) and was instrumental in helping to shape the growth and expansion of the university’s campus, especially during the Ball State Bold and Cardinal Commitment capital campaigns.
On Friday, trustees approved the naming of Hollis E. Hughes Jr. Assembly Hall in the Alumni Center.
“To the young graduates who are out in the audience… today you’re feeling a real sense of pride. You have earned something very special. Your folks believed in you, your professors believed in you and you did too. You earned it. Yes, you’ve earned it,” Hughes said, before challenging them to stay connected to their alma mater.
“It took me probably about five years to remember and give back to Ball State,” Hughes said. “Give back financially if and when you can, but more importantly, there are opportunities for you to reconnect with your colleges, with friends, and with faculty members. Do that. It will pay handsomely to you.”
Interim President Terry King recognized for service
Rick Hall, board chair, thanked the retiring King, for strengthening the university as he has led the institution. Under King’s leadership, Hall said, Ball State increased its four-year graduation rate more than any other public university in the state and boosted the career placement rate to its highest-ever at 93 percent. The Indiana legislature increased the state’s appropriations for Ball State, in addition to approving $87.5 million for Phase II of the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) and Health Professions Facility Expansion Project.
“Knowledge gained without service rendered is not the purpose of education. Help someone without knowing how it will turn out. Do something outside your comfort zone.”
— Teresa S. Lubbers
commissioner of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education
“As a result of [King’s] efforts, as Ball State enters its next chapter, it does so from a position of strength,” Hall said. “We look forward to all of our graduates coming back and continuing the improvement of this great university.”
King received a standing ovation from the crowd for his 11 years of service to Ball State.
“Graduates, I welcome you into our alumni ranks,” King said. “Remember that you will always be a member of the Cardinal Nation.”
Families celebrate the day
Families and graduates moved from the main ceremony to individual college celebrations, and many stopped for photos to commemorate the moment.
As Morgan Awe and many of her Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters gathered for a group picture on the concourse, Awe’s aunt, Lonna Owens, paused to consider her niece’s accomplishments.
“I’m excited and happy for her next journey in life,” said Owens. Awe, graduating with a degree in speech pathology and Spanish, is planning to become a bilingual speech pathologist.
Ball State instructor Christina Blanch, owner of Aw Yeah Comics in downtown Muncie, plans to use her new doctorate in education as a stepping-stone to a fulltime teaching position.
“This degree means everything—especially with my two children here to see me receive my degree,” said the 49-year-old from Indianapolis, who spent the last several years developing teaching tools based on comic books. “I am very proud of all the students here today because everyone has taken the time to get a degree or advanced degree.”
Martin Wood, a member of the Department of Nutrition and Health Science since 1994, said commencement is his favorite day of the year.
“This is a day when everyone is happy,” he said. “The students are happy they’ve earned a degree. Parents are happy to see their children graduate. And faculty are happy to have educated another extremely intelligent class who will go on to do great things.”
Words of Wisdom for the Class of 2017
The university took to social media to ask its alumni for any tips or suggestions they had for this year's graduating class. Read Ball State Magazine to see some of the best pieces of wisdom they had to offer.