As a key initiative of the Centennial Commitment (18 by ’18), the university awarded 16 Academic Excellence Grants totaling approximately $4.2 million in funding.

The competitive, internal grants provide one-time funding over three years. The program supports and encourages academic departments and administrative units to achieve academic, research, and service goals in line with the major objectives of the strategic plan to be student-centered, community-engaged, and a model 21st century public research university. Read the full announcement.

21st Century Model Public Research University Proposals

The Miller College, building on its existent faculty resources, cutting-edge curriculum, and close partnership with industry, will create a Center for Excellence in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LSCM). LSCM is a vital business function and a major growing industry in Indiana with enormous demand for trained professionals. Ball State and Miller College are well-positioned to meet the needs of students and employers as well as being an important center for thought leadership and industry outreach in this sector of the economy. The LSCM Center for Excellence will primarily (1) provide graduate and undergraduate programs of study online and on campus, (2) create a research and scholarship agenda developing innovative solutions and practical strategies to benefit employers and the industry, (3) create a vibrant forum for scholars, practitioners, and students to share contemporary ideas and solutions, and (4) provide subject matter and expert services to Indiana companies. The Center for Excellence plans to begin operating in fall 2016, with the three-year investment in both a center staff member and center operations, after which time the center will be self-sufficient through active implementation of its revenue stream model. The grant will create the momentum the center needs to be effective, self-sufficient, and on the path to national prominence in the LSCM field.

To solidify Ball State’s leadership role in the digital marketing educational space and give students a competitive advantage as they enter the job market, the Center for Advancement of Digital Marketing and Analytics (CADMA) will build on the marketing department’s new curriculum direction by focusing on marketing analytics and social media as well as the nationally ranked H.H. Gregg Center for Professional Selling. New partnerships with Indiana businesses will be built to provide them with access to digital marketing strategies and marketing insights created by faculty research and the student agency using the Social Media Digital Command Center. By emulating the command centers used by the best social media marketers, Ball State will enhance the already strong research output of the marketing faculty by providing access to data and business problems on which the marketing theory can be applied.

The main objective of this project is to expand the university’s expertise in exercise genomics related to aging and skeletal muscle health. The field of exercise genomics is rapidly evolving with new technologies and bioinformatics tools to better understand the complex interaction of exercise and skeletal muscle biology. Major components of this project include (1) specialized RNA and DNA sequencing of muscle samples and bioinformatics analyses to interpret and understand the underlying biology, (2) advanced education and exposure in exercise genomics, and (3) dissemination of scientific information. The project will help to further establish an exercise genomics core within the Human Performance Lab. The opportunity to be one of the first in the world to provide genomic insight into aging skeletal muscle biology and the impact of lifelong exercise can greatly impact the university, students, and the health of the nation.

The Department of Theatre and Dance plans to implement a new and highly innovative industry-centered program that will focus on training emerging playwrights, composers, and all theatre artists through the development of new works, something few undergraduate programs in the United States do. The primary objective is to distinguish Ball State’s Department of Theatre and Dance as a program that not only graduates accomplished artists and scholars, but also encourages forward thinking entrepreneurs and human beings that can succeed in today’s highly competitive entertainment and theatrical industry. The department will hire a playwriting instructor to lead the program and a staff member to coordinate the resulting activities generated by this new initiative, and it will administratively support an industry-sponsored and nationally visible new play competition. Once developed, this program can serve as a national model for both entrepreneurial learning and legitimate theatrical entrepreneurship within the academy.

Implementing entrepreneurial learning across developmental levels will promote Ball State as a 21st century research and entrepreneurial institution through a powerful collaboration with the university’s nationally renowned Teachers College, Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities, Burris Laboratory School, and the Center for Gifted Studies and Talent Development. A dynamic team of Ball State researchers, educators, and students will collaboratively examine and define entrepreneurial learning in a K-12 setting, develop an inclusive curriculum and pedagogy to promote entrepreneurial learning, and implement these practices, while researching the efficacy of these efforts. This will enhance Ball State’s research profile by providing data for refereed publications and presentations, positioning the collaborative units for competitive external grants or philanthropic support, and increasing national recognition of Burris and the Indiana Academy for innovative teaching practices, which will further enhance the appeal and recognition of Ball State’s teacher preparation and graduate programs.

The Summer Entrepreneurial Learning Academy will provide Ball State faculty with extensive training to incorporate project-based entrepreneurial learning activities into one or more of their regular courses, and ongoing support through the academic year during implementation of those courses. Faculty chosen for the academy will receive summer salaries to attend training and development classes during both summer sessions and will implement what they learn in the subsequent fall and/or spring terms. Those faculty members will also act as mentors for subsequent cohorts to effect a culture change in teaching and learning across the Ball State campus.

Ball State Sports Link and Digital Sports Production strives to enhance its national reputation as one of Ball State’s signature and emerging academic strengths. The outcomes include (1) purchasing equipment currently not available on campus to allow more immersive learning opportunities, (2) establishing new and supporting existing sustainable projects (including a unique high school sports media camp) and opportunities with external partners such as the NCAA, ESPN, Turner Sports, and CBS Sports, (3) enhance program marketing to attract high-quality, out-of-state students, and (4) create student scholarships for incoming freshmen. These plans will strengthen Ball State’s reputation with national sports production, recruit more students, and enhance immediate job opportunities for graduates.

Student-Centered Proposals

The Center for Student Driven Change will help put student “customers” foremost in university business processes to focus the impetus of change on their success. Professionals will staff the center and mentor and guide students in a design-based project management process of leading and implementing change. To identify and prioritize campus business needs, crowdsourcing tools will be used for obtaining student input after which students will participate in creating Charters for Change to plan and implement the identified changes. This will be in coordination with appropriate administrative units that will sponsor and implement the change process.

The College of Fine Arts will establish a professional advising center to ensure that students remain on track to graduation in four years and enable the faculty to refocus their roles as creative mentors and facilitators. Because of the complexity and multiple degree tracks within the departments, one full-time professional advisor for each academic area and a staff member who will coordinate, assist, and advise will be hired. These positions will clarify understanding within the departments and contribute to student retention.

The Social Science Departmental Advising Center (SSDAC) will be a centralized advising unit, made up of four full-time professionals who will serve as a comprehensive discipline-based advising system providing the strongest possible suite of integrated services to students. The objectives of the SSDAC are to (1) provide more efficient and accurate advising, emphasizing career exploration and on-time graduation, (2) increase student awareness about the wide diversity of social science major options, (3) help students find the best fit possible as quickly as possible, (4) help connect students to other campus resources, (5) develop and integrate web-based and digital technologies to facilitate efficiencies and benefits of scale, and (6) enable departmental faculty advisors to focus on mentoring and professional identity development.

The Ball State Initiative for Disability Employment will combine the efforts and expertise of three Ball State programs—Disability Services, the Career Center, and the Disability Project—to facilitate internships and employment for Ball State students with physical disabilities and to train employers in best practices in hiring college graduates with disabilities. While Ball State is already a leader in educating students with disabilities, the grant enhances its reach to more students, more employers, and to increase Career Center services and programs targeting students with disabilities. This initiative tackles employment issues for graduates with physical disabilities.

Community-Engaged Proposals

The Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology (SPAA) will create a student-run clinic (SRC) possibly in the redeveloped Cintas property to provide speech and hearing services to low-income families in Delaware County. A student board of directors, under the guidance of SPAA faculty, will run the clinic. The SRC will transform SPAA clinical education by allowing students to go into Muncie and directly engage with community members, while also providing students the opportunity for entrepreneurial and experiential learning. The SRC will be the first of its kind in the state, bringing a greater level of recognition to SPAA programs. The Ball State SRC will also serve the new College of Health as a cornerstone outreach program that could be expanded to include other healthcare disciplines and community healthcare professionals.

The Alliance for Community-Engaged Teacher Education (ACETE) will result in the creation of a national research hub, innovative teacher preparation space, and a national teacher education training site. Funds will be used for faculty time to collaborate with Ball State teacher candidates and community members to devise and experiment with research-based, culturally responsive practices that will improve educational outcomes for children locally and nationally. The ACETE will position Ball State as the premier community-engaged teacher preparation institution, and thus, attract highly talented students and faculty who are similarly committed to the work of making education more equitable for children.

The Legal Studies Program will create an undergraduate Access to Justice (ATJ) Clinic, in which students work with community partners to provide legal support services to underserved populations in the county and state. New courses added to the curriculum will center on social justice/access to justice issues such as poverty, race, gender, and civil law. Additionally, service learning will become not only the backbone of the ATJ Clinic, but of the entire program. The community engagement activities will provide much needed services to individuals in difficult situations with limited resources for legal help. This program establishes a unique, student-centered curriculum recognized nationally for producing outstanding graduates.

The Ball State and Community Makers Hub will provide space, resources, and programming to create a Makers Hub connecting Muncie and Ball State potentially in the redeveloped Cintas property. The Makers Hub will improve the Muncie community by engaging three target groups in hands-on, project-based problem solving: (1) local high school students, (2) Ball State students and faculty, and (3) community lifelong learners. The Makers Hub will empower people of all ages to explore, design, and create works that will act as a catalyst for local fabrication and product development. Working under the national maker movement adage—“Imagine it. Build it. Share it.”—the Makers Hub will provide an essential forum for the inspiration, ideation, and implementation of significant actions from the Muncie Action Plan and the Muncie Economic Development Vision, for example.

The Muncie Food Hub Partnership Project (MFHP) will draw together stakeholders from Ball State, Muncie, smallholder farmers in east central Indiana, local government, industry, and nonprofits in an entrepreneurial learning and planning process to implement a Muncie Food Hub potentially in the redeveloped Cintas property for the exchange and consumption of affordable, locally produced foodstuffs. Sharing food is a basic need that unites people. Recent interest in local foods and sustainable agriculture has exploded among Ball State faculty, students, and the Muncie community. This Muncie Food Hub and related policy will (1) enable students and faculty to impact agriculture, (2) provide healthy, affordable fresh food options to residents of Muncie, and (3) increase opportunities in local markets for area farmers.