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As Ball State observed the 90th anniversary of its founding, a video tribute to the Ball family was shown. Fittingly, the narrator of that video was veteran ABC News reporter Steve Bell.

Bell volunteered for the 2008 project because his 1992 arrival at Ball State was made possible by yet another example of the Ball family’s enduring support for the university, the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Chair in Telecommunications. The endowment was created by Ed and Virginia Ball to provide students the opportunity to be guided and mentored by a telecommunications practitioner, who would serve between one and five years.

Bell had been an ABC news correspondent and anchor for 20 years, including 11 years as the news anchor on ABC’s Good Morning America. As the first person named the endowed chair, he decided to accept after a personal invitation from Edmund Ball. “After the university offered the position, Ed actually invited my wife, Joyce, and me to visit,” Bell says. “His kindness made all the difference, and we visited and decided it was the place for us.”

An alumnus of Central College in Iowa, Bell earned a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University, intending to one day become a professor. “I always tell students that I went to college to become a teacher and just got diverted for 35 years,” he says. His “diversions” included reporting as a war correspondent from Vietnam, being a White House correspondent during the Watergate scandal and the Ford presidency, and writing and coanchoring (with Ted Koppel) ABC’s first documentary from the People’s Republic of China.

Just as Ball State leaders were impressed with Bell’s career, he was equally impressed with the endowed chair position. He appreciated the atmosphere at the university that allowed close relationships with students similar to what his professors at Central College had with him.

Steve and Joyce Bell made Muncie their home. Steve served five years as endowed chair, guiding the telecommunications department into a successful transition to Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media. He then accepted a permanent place on the department’s faculty, teaching a total of 15 years before retiring in 2007. In 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctorate at Ball State’s spring commencement.

Bell credits the Ball family with his successful career at Ball State, one reason he was so willing to narrate the video tribute. “I don’t think a university can be competitive without bringing to campus people whose credentials can help the school achieve its goals and fulfill its mission,” Bell says. “Ed and Virginia knew that, and they made all the difference in us adapting to Muncie. We feel so blessed that we got to know them as friends as well as benefactors.”

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