Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA) is the highest award that may be bestowed on an alumnus by the Ball State University Alumni Association (BSUAA). The award selection criteria shall be based upon the nominee’s (1) overall accomplishments (professional achievements and community service), (2) BSU Alumni Association and University involvement (BSUAA Alumni Involvement Index), and (3) consistent support of the University (through financial and/or volunteer efforts). This award shall be all-inclusive and not tied to any one profession. 


It is the desire of the Alumni Council that this award is over and above any other program in operation, such as the university policy of granting honorary degrees; recognition programs in the colleges and constituent societies; the Benny Award for service, and the Alumni Association Coach-of-the-Year Award.

The recipient must hold a degree from Ball State University; however, this requirement may be waived if a qualified nominee has attended Ball State, receives a recommendation from the DAA committee and receives approval of two-thirds of the Alumni Council. 

A maximum of three Distinguished Alumni Awards may be awarded in any one year. The DAA committee is not compelled to award the maximum number annually. Members of the Alumni Council will not be eligible to receive the DAA during their term of service on the Council. Generally, alumni serving on constituent society boards are not eligible while serving on their respective boards.

To nominate an alumnus or alumna for the Distinguished Alumni award, please fill out an online nomination form or download a form to print and mail in. For more information, contact Debbie Linegar.

Applications are accepted throughout the year and will remain in consideration for three years.
To be considered for the current year, applications should be received by February 1.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

2014 Recipients
Mark R. Holden, ’81, Owner and CEO of A&R Logistics Inc. and Founder and Owner of MRH Holdings LLC
After graduating from Ball State with a bachelor of arts in accounting and finance, Mark became a certified public accountant and began his career with Arthur Andersen & Company in Indianapolis. Then, he served as senior vice president, chief financial officer, and member of the Office of the CEO of Wabash National Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of truck trailers in the world.

Following 12 years of leadership at Wabash National, Mark became the president and CEO and a member of the board of directors of American Commercial Lines Inc. (ACLI), one of the largest barge transportation and manufacturing companies in the U.S. After leading ACLI, Mark founded MRH Holdings LLC and acquired Prime Distribution Services Inc. (PDS), headquartered in Indianapolis, becoming president, CEO, and a member of the board of directors. At the end of 2012, Mark and his partner acquired A&R Logistics headquartered in Morris, Illinois.

Mark and Debbie, who reside in West Lafayette, Indiana, have generously given to Ball State to build and establish the Holden Strategic Communications Center and launch the innovative Unified Media Lab, dedicated last March. These facilities foster a collaborative mindset for students in the College of Communication, Information, and Media. The newly created, high-tech facilities provide an experience on the leading edge of how journalists, public relations, and advertising professionals work together. In 2012, Mark became a member of the Ball State University Foundation Board of Directors. He is a former member of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.Mark received the Miller College of Business Alumni Award of Distinction in 2007. Ball State recognized Mark’s significant achievements in business and investment in future professionals with the President’s Medal of Distinction at the 2013 Spring Commencement.

Bryan A. Mills, ’82, President and CEO of Community Health Network
Bryan joined Community Health Network in 1985 as controller for Community Health North. Shortly thereafter, he became the vice president for Visionary Enterprises Inc. (VEI), a for-profit affiliate of Community Health Network, and the founder and CEO of Indianapolis Medical Management, a company within VEI. From 1992 to 2009, VEI grew exponentially in both revenue and employees. On May 1, 2009,Bryan was appointed president and CEO of Community Health Network in Indianapolis. He serves as a member of Community’s board of directors as well as a member of the board for each subsidiary.

Bryan’s extensive community involvement includes serving on the boards of directors for United Way of Central Indiana, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Indiana Sports Corp, the Regenstrief Institute, the Indiana Hospital Association, the Indiana Health Information Exchange, and the Boys and Girls Club of Noblesville, of which he is a past president. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at Butler University.

Since graduating with a bachelor of science in accounting, Bryan has been a strong and loyal advocate for Ball State. He is a generous contributor to the university’s advancement. He has developed the Community Health Network Nursing Academy, a partnership between Ball State’s nursing program and the network. He and his wife, Cathie, have contributed to the Bold Celebration Scholars program, which supports outstanding students enrolled in the Honors College. Bryan is a dedicated member of the Cardinal Varsity Club and Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Ball State recognized Bryan’s remarkable career in health care management and his leadership in Indiana with the President’s Medal of Distinction at the 2012 Fall Commencement. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award in April 2014 at the Accounting Alumni Awards Dinner.