Letterman could return to Ball State, exhibit still in the works

<p>The famous late night talk show host and Ball State alumnus could return to campus as a part of the "Dave at Ball State" series. <em>Breanna Daugherty // DN File&nbsp;</em></p>

The famous late night talk show host and Ball State alumnus could return to campus as a part of the "Dave at Ball State" series. Breanna Daugherty // DN File 

David Letterman’s legacy at Ball State isn’t over quite yet.

The famous late night talk show host and Ball State alumnus could return to campus to interview more special guests as a part of the "Dave at Ball State" series, Roger Lavery, dean of the College of Communication, Information and Media, said during December's board of trustees meeting.

“He’s interested in coming back and interviewing some really interesting folks,” Lavery said. “We’re working on that.”

The very prospect of Letterman returning to interview guests, like in the past, has some students interested, if not excited.

"He brings different ideas and brings good conversation," said Luke Jones, a senior telecommunications audio production major. "At an institutional level, he brings attention to the university. When Oprah rolls into Muncie, Indiana, that’s not a small thing."

It’s not clear when Letterman would make this return. Future guests would probably be up to CCIM and the university to find, Lavery said.

“We need to get the right people. And if we do, the students will get excited, Dave will get excited. They’ll be great interviews,” Lavery said. “So, that’s on us. We’ll take the lead because the endowed lecture series is with us, but I’ll need the president’s help.“

Vivien Pong, a telecommunications video production major, found it moving that Letterman still pays attention to the university, especially in retirement.

"I know when he came with Oprah, I wasn’t here, but that was all anything anybody talked about for a long time," Pong said. "It helped put Ball State on the map. The thought that David Letterman came to Ball State and keeps attention on us. I think that’s really cool."

Letterman returned to Ball State just last year to host “Dave at Ball State” with Spike Jonze and Bennett Miller, where he surprised the university community by donating his entire “Late Night” and “Late Show” memorabilia collection to the university. Former Ball State President Paul W. Ferguson dubbed it "The David Letterman Experience.”

Lavery confirmed that progress on setting up the exhibit is ongoing.

The collection has since arrived at Ball State and has been archived and cataloged by the university’s archival services in Bracken Library. Letterman’s collection numbered some 60 boxes in total, which includes T-shirts, correspondence, his mug, desk and more.

"We have art installations, but nothing as mainstream as Letterman," Pong said. "I’m interested to see how they’ll split [the exhibit] between Letterman and Bracken."

The Smithsonian and the U.S. National Archives both expressed interest in acquiring pieces of the collection, but Letterman declined. Instead, he wanted the entire collection to go to Ball State, Lavery said.

The process to put together the “David Letterman Experience” has taken longer than expected because of appraisal process — estimating how much the collection is worth so it could be insured. Lavery couldn’t recall how much the appraisal came in at.

When finished, the exhibit will be a combination of physical and digital interactive components. Students will be involved in its design and creation, Lavery said.

In Jones' mind, the exhibit would become a famous fixture of campus like Shafer Tower.

"It’s a way point on Ball State’s campus," he said.

No target date has been set for the exhibit’s opening, but Lavery said they might have one by the end of spring semester.


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