August 19, Ball State University President Geoff Mearns presented Ball State graduate, Annie Burns-Hicks, with the President’s Medal of Distinction at the end of the 2022 fall convocation. Burns-Hicks graduated from Ball State’s Teachers College in 1958.
“After she graduated, Annie returned to her hometown of Hammond, Indiana, where she applied for her first teaching job,” Mearns said. “Her application was promptly denied. Annie was told that Hammond–this is a quote– ‘that Hammond wasn't ready for a colored teacher.’”
After her application was rejected, Burns-Hicks took legal action against the school district and sued them in federal court. In 1960, she became Hammond’s first black teacher and was hired in fall 1960 at Maywood Elementary.
In January 2022, it was decided that Maywood Elementary is scheduled to be renamed Annie Burns-Hicks Elementary School. Burns-Hicks’ story followed Mearns’ belief of “[the] university's fundamental mission to do the hard work that will improve the lives of other people for many generations to come.”
Susana Rivera-Mills, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, opened the convocation by with awarding 14 faculty members.
Rivera-Mills “present[ed] awards to “those who have been designated as outstanding by their students and colleagues.”
In his annual speech, Mearns spoke of the many improvements that Ball State had achieved. He said there has been an eight percent increase in enrollment for new freshman from fall 2021 to fall 2022.
He named a few colleges that increased enrollment, such as the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP), the Honors College and the Teachers College. The Teachers College had a 45 percent increase from 2014 to fall 2021, and in the same period of time, CAP had doubled it’s enrollment to 950 undergraduate students.
The Honors College had a 10 percent increase from fall 2021 to fall 2022.
Mearns also spoke on Ball State’s awards, such as it’s animation bachelors program being named in the top 50 programs in the United States, and the School of Art being named a top design school in the “Graphic Design U.S.A” magazine.
Mearns also recognized Ball State’s department and faculty who had received funding and grants, such as the Human Performance Lab faculty receiving $10.8 millon over the past few years for a national research project.
Aand Marri, Dean of Teachers College and Professor of Educational Studies, received $1.3 millon from the United States Department of Education (DoEd). He plans to use the funding for professional development for remote learning in American civics, history, geography and media literacy with David Roof, associate professor of educational studies.
“We are emerging from another significant disruption, the extraordinary challenge of a global pandemic,” said Mearns. “We didn’t simply endure that challenge, we have emerged from that challenge stronger and better than ever before.”
In May 2022, Muncie Community Schools (MCS) was granted $8.1 millon from the DoEd. MCS plans to use the grant for student attendance, kindergarten preparedness and for third grade reading and math, Mearns said.