Ball State President Jo Ann Gora waves to the crowd at the Homecoming Parade on the morning of Oct. 12. Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler also was in the parade. DN PHOTO TAYLOR IRBY
LOOKING BACK: JoGo's career
First day on the job:
The search in 2004 for President Jo Ann Gora was closed, which means names of finalists were not released, angering some students and faculty.
The search for a new president:
Oct. 26, 2013 - President Jo Ann Gora announces her plan to retire this summer. Gora was in French Lick, Ind., at a Board of Trustees retreat. The news was later broken through email.
Jan. 5, 2014 - Ball State hires executive search firm Baker and Associates at a cost of $150,000. The Marietta, Ga., company referred applicants to the 16-member presidential search committee. The search was later determined to be closed.
Jan. 16, 2014 - The university hosts a session for students to offer their opinions on Ball State’s new president. Seven students attended.
Jan. 23, 2014 - Baker and Associates releases the specifications for the next president. Specifications include a terminal degree and managerial or administrative experience.
April 3, 2014 - Five finalists are chosen from a list of 22 applicants. The list did not include political figures or current business executives. The board said in a press conference they were not looking for a temporary replacement but a “long-term leader.”
April 7, 2014 - The search committee says it will likely recommend the final two candidates during the last week of April.
April 22 and 23, 2014 - The search committee interviews candidates in Chicago. It offered anonymous visits to campus, but some of the candidates had already visited.
July 1, 2014 - The new president is expected to take over on this day.
Jayson Manship, Student Government Association president at the time, criticized student representation on the search committee in a statement during the search.
“Students have always been underrepresented when it comes to governance-related issues,” he said in a 2004 statement. “Apparently, the students have once again been overlooked.”
Ball State also was involved in a multimillion dollar lawsuit after a University Police Officer shot and killed student Michael McKinney while responding to a burglary call.
The birth of Education Redefined:
In 2007, Gora launched the strategic plan Education Redefined. It lasted until 2012 and focused on immersive learning.
The initiative became the “hallmark” of a Ball State education.
During that time period, about 16,400 students from all seven colleges in the university partnered with community members for immersive learning projects.
Nation’s largest geothermal project:
In May 2009, the university started a two-phase geothermal project.
Phase one was completed in March 2012, and Ball State was able to shut down two coal-fired boilers.
When complete, the system will provide heating and cooling to more than 45 buildings on campus.
The university estimated the system will save the university $2 million each year and reduce Ball State’s carbon footprint in half. It is the largest geothermal district energy system in the United States.
Academic freedom controversy:
Gora spoke out against the teaching of intelligent design in science courses, following accusations that astronomy assistant professor Eric Hedin taught intelligent design in his honors colloquium.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to say that Hedin was teaching intelligent design in the class.
“The question is not one of academic freedom, but one of academic integrity,” she said. “Said simply, to allow intelligent design to be presented to science students as a valid scientific theory would violate the academic integrity of the course, as it would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars.”
The university reviewed the course and is implementing annual reviews for each honors course.
Planning for the future:
Gora worked with university officials and architecture firm SmithGroupJJR to plan the next 20 years of change to Ball State’s campus.
Topping the list of major changes is a potential Academic East Quad that would include lab space and immersive learning space.
Accompanying the quad would be an East Mall, a walkway to connect the space to campus. It would cover the area between Pruis Hall and the Emens Parking Garage. However, not all of the land is currently owned by the university.
Questions for the president:
... ON HER NICKNAME
Q: Do you like the nickname “JoGo”?
A: Somebody told me that a few years ago that that was my nickname. I actually think that is a great nickname, I do. When I think of all the terrible nicknames I could have, I am happy with that. I’ll take that. ... I don’t know how that got started and I don’t know when somebody told me that, but only in the last year or two have I known that that’s my nickname.
Q: I think it’s like a celebrity name.
A: JLo and me, that’s great, now I’m even more flattered. What do they call Angelina and Brad? Brangelina. I hadn’t even thought of it that way. Well that’s very flattering, I’m very flattered now.
... ON BEING A FEMALE PRESIDENT
Q: What did it mean to you to be the first female president to lead a major public university in Indiana, and how has that perception changed?
A: I think a lot has changed in the last 10 years and I think in 2004 it was the headline in the local newspaper. So, it was big news in 2004. I found Indiana to be a very welcoming state, I really didn’t feel that there were any issues about being a woman president of a public research university and sometimes I thought it was an advantage in the sense that I had a lot of name recognition early on because of that. There was a lot of attention that was paid to the appointment and I thought, in the long run, that that was adventitious to the university.
Q: Do you think it would be equally as big of a deal now?
A: No, I don’t think so because, you know, Purdue has had a woman president, the president of USI is a woman, so no, I think it would be less of a headline, shall we say now than 10 years ago. ... I think that’s very positive.