After almost a full year in the works, Ball State’s blueprint for future development has been approved by the Board of Trustees.

The Board voted Dec. 14 to approve the newly-named strategic plan, Destination 2040: Our Flight Path: 2019-24 Strategic Plan for Ball State University.

“To our knowledge, there is no other institution of our size that is undertaking this kind of responsibility,” President Geoffrey Mearns said when presenting the plan to the Board.

Since it was first unveiled at the Centennial Celebration on Sept. 6, the strategic planning committee has organized a number of ways to get feedback from campus about how to improve it.

In total, the strategic planning committee used three forums for students, faculty and staff and online surveys to revise the working plan set in September.

Originally, the plan had four main points of emphasis — undergraduate excellence and innovation, advanced and lifetime learning, community engagement and impact, and institutional and inclusive excellence.

Now, the committee decided to split advanced and lifetime learning into two new goals: graduate education and lifetime learning and scholarship and societal impact.

“We were prompted to make the change because of the feedback we’ve heard that we have not spoken clearly enough about the importance of scholarship and research, and it was necessary – it was embedded in another goal and we thought it was important to have it as its own goal,” Mearns said.

Aside from goals, the strategic plan lists seven enduring values, including excellence, social responsibility and gratitude.

“We chose the word enduring because we believe that the values that we have listed here are the values that have distinguished this university for a hundred years and will continue to distinguish this university for the next hundred years,” Mearns said.

The committee chose to add two values, courage and innovation, to this revised plan.

“Those two values are what prompted the creation of the Teachers College one hundred years ago,” Mearns said.

With the approval of the strategic plan come a few changes to student and graduate life. For one, Mearns envisions that graduates will have a mentor who will help them plan their lives after school is over.

Mearns said it’s projected for the strategic plan to be implemented at the upper-level of the university by February or March. Then, colleges and departments will get help in specializing their programs to match with the strategic plan.

He also said he wants to actively involve students in shaping how the strategic plan is implemented so it best suits them.

“It’s going to be a heavy lift,” Mearns said.

The approval of the strategic plan was met with cheers from the strategic planning committee and positivity from the Board.

“I think it’s outstanding,” Board chair Rick Hall said. “It captures who we are and challenges us to build on that.”

Before the approval of the strategic plan, the Board of Trustees heard reports from other offices on campus. These included a student facilities report and an update on undergraduate acceptance.

Mearns unveiled the approved plan Monday morning with a document, web page and YouTube video breaking down the plan's goals. 

"This new plan will enable us to prepare students like you for fulfilling careers and meaningful lives, while strengthening our community, providing economic and social benefit to our region and state, and offering leadership by example across our country and around the world," Mearns said in a campus-wide email. 

Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Kay Bales, said that overall undergraduate acceptance is up for students applying to attend in 2019-20.

This is the first year that Ball State has become test-optional, meaning students applying aren’t required to submit standardized test scores.

Bales said 28 percent of all admitted students are test-optional, and their population is showing a higher overall GPA than other applicants.

As far as application rates, submitted applications are up about 12.5 percent, with Indiana resident applications up by 21 percent.

Bales also said Ball State has seen a “significant jump” in Latino students this year.

Contact Sara Barker with comments at slbarker3@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @sarabarker326.