After 30 years of service at Ball State, the university bid farewell to Kay Bales, vice president for enrollment planning and management, Friday at Ball State’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Bales began working for Ball State in 1989 in the student activities office. Later, she would serve as associate vice president for student life and as the top administrator for the division of student affairs and enrollment services.

The board, in a resolution passed at its meeting, also named the Excellence in Leadership program at Ball State, an emerging leaders program, after Bales who created the program 25 years ago.

“I was quite taken by surprise. I had no idea that there was any consideration of that,” she said. “It’s probably one of the most special things I’ll remember during my service to the university and to our students.”

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns, in his remarks at the board meeting, thanked the board for naming the program after Bales.

“This honor is a fitting tribute to a colleague who, for more than 30 years, has been a student advocate at heart and who has served our university with distinction for much of her professional career,” Mearns said.

During her tenure, some of her achievements included improving retention rates, securing more than $3.5 million in external funding to help with student success, facilitating several campus building projects like the University Police Department, the Student Center, the new Multicultural Center and new residence halls and enrolling “the largest, most academically-prepared and most diverse freshman class in university history,” said Matt Momper, assistant secretary of the board.

Apart from the physical transformation of Ball State’s campus Bales said “the care and concern” the university and its faculty has for its students is what “will stand the test of time.”

“I have always considered Ball State to be a very special place,” she said, adding that the university’s alumni would say the same. 

Bales said what students consider when deciding to join the university is “finding a fit and finding a home.”

“I think one of the key messages to convey to students is that Ball State is a very exciting place to learn and to live and it provides some of the greatest academic and co-curricular experiences that students can find,” she said.

Following her retirement, Bales said she plans on spending her time traveling, spending time with her family and other spring activities, and looks forward to the flexibility in her life that she hasn’t had for a long time.

“I’ve been working since I was 16 years old,” she said. “It might be weird at first, but I’m looking forward to all the things that I will have a chance to do.”

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