Board of Trustees discusses first-year enrollment as David Letterman makes surprise appearance

Enrollment increases after dip for fall 2021 semester

David Letterman speaks in front of the Ball State Board of Trustees at their 2022 Fall Semester Meeting, Sept. 30, 2022, in Cardinal Hall at the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. Kyle Smedley, DN
David Letterman speaks in front of the Ball State Board of Trustees at their 2022 Fall Semester Meeting, Sept. 30, 2022, in Cardinal Hall at the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. Kyle Smedley, DN

The Ball State Board of Trustees convened Sept. 30, which was the first meeting for the 2022-23 academic year. 

Tom Roberts, Director of Internal Audit and Advisory Services, said the annual audit plan for the university is ahead of schedule, and Baker Tilly, a consulting firm, is working on a risk assessment for student wellness. 

Alan Finn, Vice President for Business Affairs, discussed refinancing opportunities for bonds in 2013 that would be used to help construct the current Botsford-Swinford residence hall. These bonds will be refunded in June 2023, and said the savings over the next 10 years will total $1.9 million.

“That is important to us because that accrues directly to our housing and dining program,” Finn said. “Which means ultimately this saves our students' money.”

Finn also presented for approval of changes to the university Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association Trust and Other Post-Employment Benefits Trust Policy; the motion passed unanimously.

Finn then presented the General Fund Budget. Finn states that the budget had $371.6 million. This budget was created after the Board of Trustees approved several budget-related resolutions in the previous meeting in June.

For a second year in a row, according to Finn, room and board rates and parking rates have not changed. 

Finn also presented about auxiliary budgets, the Indiana Academy’s budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year and upcoming capital requests for the next session of the Indiana General Assembly. Finn also asked approval for the transfer of 12 acres north of campus to the City of Muncie; the motion passed.

Twelve members of faculty were presented to the Board for emeritus status. Finn stated that in order to be considered for emeritus status, the retiring employee must be 62 years of age or lower, and have 15 consecutive years of service to the community. The motion passed unanimously.

Paula Luff, Vice President for Enrollment, Planning, and Management, announced that 3,482 first-year students enrolled to Ball State for the fall 2022 semester - a 6% increase from the previous fall semester. 17% of those students took part in a summer bridge program.

Luff reported that 31% of students were taking at least one class online. She also said that a quarter of new first-year students are students of color, and almost a third of students are first generation students.

“Students are multifaceted,” Luff said. “They're not just one characteristic. They're complex.”

For the future, Luff announced new recruitment plans, including a Common Application option for new applicants and using social media to focus on admissions.

Jason Rivera, Associate Vice Provost for Student Success, commented on the Navigate app, which Ball State began using at the beginning of this semester. He said the platform has been rolled out to Ball State faculty. 

“We saw over 30,000 alerts come in from faculty regarding students that have triggered interventions from our advisors,” Rivera said.

Rivera also talked about Cardinal Central, a system whose goal is “to eliminate the number of stops a student has to make to get support or resources within each of the colleges.”

According to Rivera, the goal of Cardinal Central is to “eliminate or reduce barriers and bounce between administrative unites for students…through an integrated, student-focused service”.

Seth Beckman, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, also presented to the Board. Beckman noted how there is a renewed “enthusiasm and energy” with the Village redevelopment project. 

Jim McAtee, Executive Director for Career and Professional Development for Indiana Connection Lounge and Experience, was just beginning his presentation when David Letterman walked into the meeting.

Letterman was introduced as a “special guest” by Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns.

“Being surrounded by trustees has never happened,” Letterman said. “I’m rarely surrounded by anyone.”

In between telling jokes, Letterman expressed respect for his alma mater.

“How about this university?” Letterman said. “It's unbelievable. It makes me so proud to be associated with this.”

McAtee’s presentation concerned how Indiana Connection Lounge and Experience can be used to help students build “social capital”. 

James Williams, President of the Muncie Community Schools Board, addressed the Board about the partnership between MCS and Ball State.

“The financial aspect from our perspective is getting in very good shape,” Williams said. “We continue to need to apply resources and work on with a sense of urgency to the academic performance side.”

The salary of teachers at MCS increased by 14.7% for the 2022-23 school year, while the salary of support staff increased by 6.7%

Williams said that MCS recently was awarded an $8.1 million grant to improve Grissom, Longfellow, and South View elementary schools. 

“The focus of those dollars will be continuing to enhance and grow our pre-K programs,” Williams said. MCS had 156 preschoolers during the 2021-22 school year.

Deedie Downie, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Indiana State Fair, commented on the “highly personalizes and interactive” brand of Ball State and how that brand was shown at this year’s state fair.

“We had people lining up just to tell us what their Ball State connection was or experience was,” Downie said.

In his remarks, Geoffery Mearns touched on what makes the university “truly special”.

“It's not just the programs,” Mearns said. “But it's the people and the culture and the enduring values.”

The next Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for Dec. 16.

Contact Kyle Smedley with comments via email at or on Twitter @smedley1932. Contact Hannah Amos with comments at or on Twitter @Hannah_Amos_394.


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