Grey skies and rain did not take away from the ceremonies as Ball State graduates donning black caps and gowns along with their friends and families gathered together for the university’s spring 2019 commencement.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, the keynote speaker of the ceremonies, addressed about 3,200 students expecting to receive their diplomas Saturday at John E. Worthen Arena, the alternate location in the event of inclement weather. This was the first time an Indiana governor has addressed a Ball State commencement while in office, according to a previous Ball State press release.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb gives a speech during the spring 2019 commencement May 4, 2019, in John E. Worthen Area. Holcomb urged Ball State graduates to stay in Indiana. Scott Fleener, DN

”It’s a profound and historical honor for me as governor of the great state of Indiana to be here on this day and to have a role in your celebration — a real source of pride for all of us,” Holcomb said. “This will be a day I shall never forget.”

Holcomb noted his family’s connection to Ball State and the Ball family — his wife Janet Holcomb having earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the university, and his brother-in-law and President of the Ball Brothers Foundation Jud Fisher being a descendant of the Ball family.

“That’s worth a chirp, chirp, if there ever was one,” he said.

Holcomb said this was a “milestone ceremony in one of our nation’s flagship institutions,” and this being the centennial graduating class “makes it extra special still. 

“When I think about how far Indiana has advanced over this last century, a lot of who we are and who we’ve become as a state is because of this university and the 99 classes of graduates who came before you all,” he said.

Holcomb then asked Ball State students for four favors: “stay in Indiana, pursue your passion, fall in love and embrace the opportunities that follow any temporary setback.”

“Do those four things and you will be well on your way to not only a successful life but to solving the meaning and mystery of life itself,” he said.

He concluded his speech thanking the audience and congratulating the students.

“Because I’m in a Ball State of mind, I know that means much success is coming your way,” he said. “So, onward and upward go forth, and let your power be a force for good.”

Lucina Ball Moxley receives an honorary Doctor of Arts degree during the spring 2019 commencement May 4, 2019, in John E. Worthen Arena. Moxley, 100, is the granddaughter of William C. Ball, one of the five Ball Brothers who established Ball State. Scott Fleener, DN

Prior to the governor’s speech, President Geoffrey Mearns conferred an honorary Doctor of Arts degree upon Lucina Ball Moxley to recognize her achievements as a musician, educator and patron of the arts. Moxley is the 100-year-old granddaughter of William C. Ball — one of the five Ball brothers who founded the university in 1918 — and oldest living member of the Ball family.

“We can’t help but be different from our forefathers, but basic values and strength of character remain the same,” Mearns said quoting a line from Moxley’s memoir — a line he said “embodies the spirit of our university’s ongoing centennial celebration.”

After receiving her degree, Moxley shook it a little and waved it to the crowd as they cheered on.

Emma Spaulding, speech pathology major, said her excitement about graduating kicked in this morning.

“The whole four years has finally happened. I’m graduating,” Spaulding said.

Haiam Gendi, mother of anthropology major Mina Moussa, said she was “so proud and excited” about her son’s graduation.

“Well, he did it,” Gendi said, adding “Ball State was the right community for him.”

Contact Rohith Rao with comments at or on Twitter @RaoReports.