Ball State has spent this year celebrating 100 years as an institution. As part of the ongoing centennial celebration, and March being National Women’s history month, the University is acknowledging influential women of past and present.

On March 21, the University hosted a panel discussion to honor the lasting legacy left by the women of the Ball family. Ball State’s Thalia Mulvihill was joined by Jessica Jenkins, Susan Smith, and Karen Vincent of Minnetrista. The four Panelists discussed some of the lesser known tails about the women supporting the Ball brothers in their journey in bringing Ball State to the University it is today.

Ball State First Lady Jennifer Mearns served as the mediator for the event. She expressed her gratitude for the partnership that Ball State shares with Minnetrista as well as the university’s efforts in celebrating National Women’s history month.

“It is incredible, Minnetrista has so much resources there,” Mearns said. “And what is really interesting is that I just heard someone from Ball State that we haven’t had the folks from Minnetrista here for an event on campus. So I think having them here is very exciting.”

Jessica Jenkins works as a curator for Minnetrista. Her portion of the discussion was focused on the contributions of Sarah Rogers Ball and Bertha Crosley Ball for their work related to public health in the early 20th century. She spoke of the preparation that went towards shining a light on the unique lives that these women lived.

“We sat down as a group and really brainstormed who some of the interesting women in the family were, which in reality is all of them,” Jenkins said. “We hope to provide a more information about the Ball family women, and hopefully that will spark the curiosity of the attendees to go out on their own and learn about some of the great things that they have done.”

The panel was followed up by a reception Wednesday night at the university's Alumni Center to honor women of achievement across the state of Indiana. Those honored at the reception were identified as women who have shown a level of expertise and distinction in their fields of work. The honored women were Dr. Ronda Hamm for distinction in science education, Dr. Martha Kendrick for distinction in education and national/international volunteerism, Ms. Marisa Kwiatkowski for distinction in journalism as a route to public policy reform, Dr. Susan Pressler for distinction in cardiac research and the quality of life enhancement for cardiac patients, Ms. Kris Costa Sakelaris for distinction in legal services and leadership in the Indiana bar, and Ms. Danielle Shockey for distinction in innovation and leadership for young women.

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns was in attendance for both events and closed out his contribution by reminding the Ball State community of the women figure that serves as a guide to the university.

“There may be five pillars, but there is one Beneficence statue,” Mearns said. “And it is appropriate that that statue is a figure of a women who represents the enduring values of our institution.”