John Emens: Ball State's 6th president
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As Ball State’s sixth president from 1945-68, John Emens saw the university transition into a new era.
It wasn’t until Feb. 8, 1965, three years before Emens retired, that Ball State received its current name, but that didn’t stop the campus from growing toward what it is today.
Enrollment at Ball State during Emens’ first year as president increased to 1,010 students as World War II came to an end, and in 1946, the numbers doubled, according to Ball State’s website.
Eventually, under Emens’ leadership, the number of students attending Ball State reached 13,000. In order to support the influx of students, a long-range campus plan was created and carried out during the next 18 years.
Buildings on campus also increased as construction on buildings — including a practical arts building, physical science-mathematics building, nursing education building, athletic stadium and residence halls — began.
By September 1965, Ball State had grown to include 29 departments and divisions in five colleges, including the College of Architecture and Planning and the Department of Nursing, according to Ball State’s website.
Among Emens’ goals was to create a “campus of the future” with an auditorium “large enough to house most college functions as well as major symphonies, Broadway productions, ballets and other forms of entertainment for Muncie and east central Indiana audiences.” That dream came true in 1964 when Emens Auditorium was completed.
Even after retirement, Emens was involved in the Ball State and Muncie community. He helped form an investment club known as the Stock Watchers of Muncie, and was a fundraiser for the Muncie Civic Theater from 1974 to 1976.
While Emens died in 1976, a group of his friends and alumni founded a scholarship in his honor, which was first awarded to five students in 1977, according to the Aug. 1, 1977, issue of The Daily News.
Today, the John R. Emens and Aline Emens Scholarship is awarded to high school seniors who have “actively participated in academic and extracurricular activities and has been a leader in [their] high school and local community.”
Also dedicated to the former president is the John R. Emens Award for Outstanding Senior. This award is given to “the most outstanding senior student in honor of his or her cumulative record of co-curricular achievement, leadership and contributions to Ball State University during his or her undergraduate years.”