Ball State's Alumni Association was founded when the first class of the fledgling normal school graduated in 1919. This group functioned until 1926, when a more formal organization, with R. Nelson Snider, '22, as its president, was established. To date, there have been 73 presidents/chairmen serving the association as well as six executive directors/presidents.
Julie Stroh was hired as the new President in August 2012. In June 2011, Edwin D. Shipley, '68 MA '71, retired from Alumni Programs after serving as President since 1980. Robert E. Linson, '47 MA '48, previously held the position from 1955 to 1980. Other full-time executive directors served between 1947 and 1955 and included David Hartley, '33; Leroy Hull, '48; and Reese Williams, '48.
We evolved from our informal beginning to a dues-paying organization in 1939 to our current structure, which since 1954 has effectively incorporated an annual alumni fund, replacing the dues-paying system.The Ball State University Alumni Association was incoporated as a non-profit corporation in 2009.
Money has been raised for various academic and athletic areas through alumni-designated gifts. The Alumni Council spearheaded the drive for scholarships for outstanding students by establishing the Alumni Merit, Ralph E. Whitinger, John R. Emens, Ray Ashley, Oliver C. Bumb, Robert E. Linson, Legacy, and other departmental scholarships.
Recognizing the need for a strong athletic booster club, in 1962 the Alumni Council formed the Cardinal Varsity Club that now is a separate entity in support of Ball State's intercollegiate athletics program.
One of the visible ways of projecting a good alumni image has been the establishment of a varied awards program for outstanding alumni. The premier award, established by the Alumni Council, is the Distinguished Alumni Award, begun in 1959. Many alumni have been recognized for their major contributions to society and to their alma mater through this honor.
Other alumni recognition include Benny Awards, for exemplary service to Ball State or the Alumni Association; G.O.L.D. Awards, recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of recent graduates; and Coach of the Year Awards, given annually to Indiana high school coaches in all IHSAA sports who have state championship seasons.
Publications sent to alumni began with a quarterly Ball State Alumnus magazine in 1937 that went out to dues-paying members only. This circulation continued until 1956 when Ball State President John R. Emens provided for an infusion of budget support that enabled a more frequent distribution of the magazine and directed copies to all Ball State alumni. Current circulation of the Ball State Alumnus, produced six times annually (print and/or electornically), is more than 140,000. In addition, alumni receive specialized mailings and emails which provide information on alumni activities and programs.
We began playing a greater role in the recruitment process for students in 1985. What originally started as prospective student receptions in Indiana has extended to other states where alumni serve as welcoming ambassadors for the university. In addition, the Alumni Association and Office of Admissions formed the Cardinal Alumni Recruitment Team (CART) in 1999. CART is a network of alumni volunteers that assist Ball State to identify, recruit, and retain high-ability students. CART offers a $500 scholarship to incoming freshmen.
We have been a national leader in our involvement with student campus leaders. With a strong history of Homecoming undergraduate participation, we have successfully sponsored homecomings to include an array of activities that annually involves more than 400 student volunteers. In 1965, we sponsored the founding of the Ball State Student Foundation and in 1985 organized the Student Alumni Relations Team (St.A.R.T.).
The Student Alumni Relations Team acts as a liaison between the university's student body and the Alumni Association. The primary goal of St.A.R.T. is to acquaint students with the programs, services, and facilities of the Alumni Association prior to their graduation. A secondary goal is to provide active support to the Alumni Association for all types of alumni programming, and since its inception, the organization has initiated, planned, and sponsored numerous educational and social programs.
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