President Geoffrey S. Mearns was installed as the 17th president of Ball State University Friday in John R. Emens Auditorium.

Mearns began working for the university in May. Since then, he has already begun work on one of his main presidential goals: building relations between Ball State  and the city of Muncie. 

“I think it’s in our institutional interest, our futures are connected, so Ball State has a direct interest in helping support Muncie,” Mearns said. “Also, it’s about gratitude. We have an obligation to support our community when they need us.” 

Continuing the relationship between Ball State and Muncie isn’t just a goal. 

“This partnership is so important to both the city and the university, in fact it’s a partnership that dates back to Ball State’s founding almost 100 years ago,” said Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler during the event. “In some communities, the town-and-gown relationship can be strained and sometimes unfriendly. That is not the case with the city of Muncie and Ball State University.”

For his work not only on campus, but also in the community,  Tyler presented Mearns with a key to the city.

Mearns’ third child, Clare, also spoke at the event. Not only is Mearns her father, he also used to be her university president at Northern Kentucky University. 

“One thing that I hope you come to learn about my father is how much he truly cares about this university and the people that make it unique and special,” Clare said. “He will wear the colors and be a champion for you in the community and across the state.”

Clare said Mearns taught all of his children the value of education, like his father taught him. For him, education is not just “institutional, it’s personal,” which is why he and his wife created a scholarship fund to support Muncie Central schools.

“As I’ve been here, one of the things I’ve learned is that it’s one thing to talk about gratitude, and it’s another thing to take actions,” Mearns said. “So, Jennifer, my lovely wife, and I decided one of the ways we could support both the community, and the schools and the university, was to provide financial assistance to students who need it.” 

The Mearns are personally donating $100,000 to create an endowment fund for Muncie Central graduates who are planning to become first-generation college graduates at Ball State.

The Board of Trustees contributed $150,000 to the fund because of Mearns’ simple installation. Additionally, all Board of Trustee members and every director from the Ball State University foundation raised and donated a total of $30,000, which brought the fund total to $280,000.

Rick Hall, chair of the Board of Trustees, said  in his short time with the university, Mearns has already led Ball State in the pursuit of excellence. 

“The university will continue to chart a course that’s uniquely ours, and along the way we will demonstrate our values through our actions, through the opportunities that we provide, the communities that we improve and the lives that we change,” Hall said. “In Geoff Mearns, Ball State has the right leader for the journey because together, we boldly move into our next 100 years.”