Ball State Board of Trustees votes to dedicate Ginn Woods as Indiana nature preserve, reappoints MCS school board member

<p>John Taylor, land manager for the Field Station and Environmental Education Center, presents a proposal to Ball State&#x27;s Board of Trustees to dedicate Ginn Woods as an Indiana nature preserve, March 26, 2021. Taylor said Indiana lacks natural wetlands, which Ginn Woods provides for unique plant and animal species. <strong>Grace McCormick, Screenshot Capture</strong></p>

John Taylor, land manager for the Field Station and Environmental Education Center, presents a proposal to Ball State's Board of Trustees to dedicate Ginn Woods as an Indiana nature preserve, March 26, 2021. Taylor said Indiana lacks natural wetlands, which Ginn Woods provides for unique plant and animal species. Grace McCormick, Screenshot Capture

At its March 26 Zoom meeting, the Ball State Board of Trustees Finance, Facilities and Planning Committee voted to designate Ginn Woods as an Indiana Nature Preserve.

Ginn Woods is a 161-acre forest owned by Ball State and located in Delaware County.

“200 years ago, Delaware County was almost entirely forested, now it’s about 3 percent forest and those are tiny forest fragments,” said John Taylor, land manager for the Field Station and Environmental Education Center. “Ginn Woods is the biggest forest in Delaware County and it is among the very best in all of the state.”

The vote to designate Ginn Woods proposes to create the second nature preserve in Delaware County, the first being Munsee Woods. The Indiana Natural Resources Commission must approve the proposed dedication. Taylor said Ginn Woods has a history of being a “living classroom” for researchers and schoolchildren.

Jim Lowe, associate vice president for facilities and planning management, said the vote to designate Ginn Woods as a nature preserve reaffirms Ball State’s commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability.

“Ball State has a long, and responsive and distingushed record of sustainability and has developed a strong environmental stewardship reputation,” Lowe said. “The university believes in protecting and enhancing the environment of not only the campus, but also the surrounding community.”

Also in the meeting, Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns suggested David Heeter be reappointed to the Muncie Community Schools (MCS) school board. Heeter was appointed in 2018 for a three-year term that expires in June 2021.

Mearns said Heeter led the MCS school board in balancing its budget for the past three years since the partnership between Ball State and MCS started in July 2018.

“Dave Heeter is a passionate advocate for the Muncie Community Schools,” Mearns said. “He’s personally dedicated to ensuring that every child in Muncie has access to a quality public education.”

The Board of Trustees voted to reappoint Heeter to a four-year term expiring in 2025. Heeter said he is grateful for the opportunity to serve on the school board for four more years.

“The heavy lifting is really done by the people who go every day and work in the schools,” Heeter said.

During the academic and student affairs committee meeting, Vice President for Student Affairs Ro-Anne Royer Engle said the university plans to host in-person Welcome Week activities in the fall 2021 semester and offer opportunities for sophomores to participate.

"For our sophomores, when we do Welcome Week, [we will] make sure we tell them ‘you are part of this Welcome Week, you get to do your first year over again,’ and to be able to pull them into these important milestones that they missed last year,” Royer Engle said.

Chair of the Board of Trustees Renae Conley held a moment of silence for Eric Talley, a Boulder, Colorado police officer and Ball State alumnus killed in a mass shooting March 22.

“We grieve with all the families and commuities where these lives were so senselessly lost,” Conley said. “Quite simply, Officer Talley embodies the values that we hold dear at Ball State University — those of excellence, those of integrity and courage, even when it calls for the ultimate sacrifice.”

To end the meeting, Mearns reminded trustee members of the commencement ceremony dates for May 2021. He said more than 2,000 students have registered to participate in commencement ceremonies, which will be spread out over three days. More than 800 students who graduated in 2020 have registered to return to campus to walk in a commencement ceremony May 15, Mearns said.

RELATED: Ball State president announces in-person commencement for May 2021

“Our graduates, their families and their friends will be able to participate in an event that represents a major milestone for them,” Mearns said, “and marks the return of a time-honored tradition for all of us at our university.”

Contact Grace McCormick with comments at grmccormick@bsu.edu or on Twitter @graceMc564

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