Gora leaving will be loss for university, faculty says

Ball State President Jo Ann Gora waves to the crowd during the Homecoming Parade on Oct. 12. Gora announced in an email she will retire in June, 2014. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
Ball State President Jo Ann Gora waves to the crowd during the Homecoming Parade on Oct. 12. Gora announced in an email she will retire in June, 2014. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY

The best replacement for Jo Ann Gora would be a clone of Gora, said Jim Lowe, director of engineering and construction operations.

“You want that person that’s in that leadership role,” he said. “Every day, you want to go give 120 percent, and that’s Jo Ann Gora.”

Lowe said she has been dynamic, respected and intelligent.

“Her guidance has been excellent,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough job replacing her. I don’t think you can find another Jo Ann Gora.”

Lowe and Gora worked on the university’s geothermal project together, which is currently in its second phase.

“I will tell you, for me personally, the geothermal project without her leadership, I don’t think that project would have moved forward,” he said. “There are a lot of universities I speak to about our project that are in awe that it had the support of the president because those are tough decisions to make, but she made it.

“It suggests to me that, in her position, it could become easy to not take certain risks, but she did.”

Michael Hanley, vice chair of Faculty Council, agreed Gora leaving will be a loss.

“It’s going to be a big loss for us, for sure,” he said. “We’re certainly lucky to have her around as long as we did. We can only wish her well for the leadership she provided for a decade.”

Hanley, who is involved in emerging and mobile media on campus, said he has worked with Gora on different committees.

“We’re on the map now, because of primarily her leadership,” he said. “We’re focused on immersive learning and emerging media and all the things that no one was thinking about a decade ago. Now, we’re just really far out ahead of a lot of other places.”

He said he like that Gora lead from the bottom up and took the time to learn what people wanted and needed.

“Leadership at that level is not always easy,” he said. “You don’t always make friends, and that’s really not your goal. It’s easy to be a leader from the top down. To lead from the bottom up, like she did, I think was really difficult.”

Kip Shawger, chair of Faculty Council, said the announcement was surprising, but not unexpected.

“I imagine her schedule is just so busy — it’s time for her to step back and enjoy life,” he said. “I would’ve expected in two to three [years], rather than one year.”

Shawger said he has been involved with university governance for five years. He said Gora made her administration much more “user friendly,” and that he sat on committees with her.

“She’s led the university through very, very difficult budget cuts several years ago, in which a lot of people were worried about programs being cut,” he said. “She stayed the ship and she made the budget cuts decisions so that it had the least effect on programs and faculty and personnel. She had excellent leadership under those circumstances.”

Shawger said he is sad to see her go.

“I would hope we continue to enhance our statewide and national reputation though philanthropic donations and endeavors,” he said. “I would hope that we would continue to embrace technology because that was one of her goals when she came in, [it] was to promote that. Everything she’s done has been in that direction, which made Ball State a very distinctive statewide and national university.”


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