(MUNCIE) – This Fall, Ball State University welcomed a record 22,541 students, including its largest, most academically qualified, and most diverse freshman class in the institution’s 101-year history.
“It is very exciting to welcome such a bright and diverse group of students to Ball State,” said Board Chairman Rick Hall. “Ball State is on an upward trajectory, and there has never been a better time to be a Cardinal.”
The previous record of 22,513 was set in 2017. During today’s Board of Trustees meeting, Kay Bales, vice president for Enrollment Planning and Management, also spoke about the 4,034 freshmen on campus, who surpass the record of 4,006 set in 1997.
She noted that as a result of coordinated and innovative recruitment strategies, Ball State received nearly 28,000 applications for admission—another record.
Dr. Bales also pointed out this year’s freshman class is the most diverse in Ball State’s history with 23% identifying as underrepresented minorities. This freshman class is also academically well prepared with a median high school grade point average of 3.53 and 76.4% holding an Academic Honors Diploma. Both of these are new records for the university.
Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns said he believes Ball State’s outstanding campus is one of the main attractions for incoming students. New buildings include the recently-opened Health Professions Building, home to the College of Health.
In the next few years, the university will complete construction of the North Residential Neighborhood, a new Foundational Sciences Building, and a new Multicultural Center. A groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility is set for October 19 during Homecoming Weekend.
“We foster a campus culture where everyone feels welcome,” President Mearns said. “I look forward to seeing our new students develop into graduates who will have fulfilling careers and who will lead meaningful lives.”
Trustees also heard an update on the accomplishments of the partnership between Ball State and Muncie Community Schools (MCS) from Jim Williams, MCS board president; Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, director of public education and chief executive officer for MCS; and Susana Rivera-Mills, Ball State’s provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs.
Mr. Williams and Dr. Kwiatkowski noted that during the first year of the partnership, MCS enjoyed several key accomplishments, including:
- Enrollment was higher than expected in 2018-19.
- A budget surplus in 2018-19.
- Teachers and staff received salary increases in July 2019, the first in eight years.
- Enhanced partnerships with various community organizations.
- Successful recognition events and financial stipends, resulting in improved morale among teachers and staff.
- Approximately $9 million in improvements to the MCS buildings.
- The creation of the Community Engagement Council and the hiring of a new coordinator.
- Expansion of high-quality preschools across MCS.
- Breakfast and lunch programs at no cost to students and a summer meals program.
- New leadership at MCS.
Dr. Rivera-Mills said another key effort to transform MCS into a model school system is the creation of the Joint Academic Innovation Council (AIC), which is developing a long-term Academic Innovation and Financial Viability Plan to be presented to the Indiana legislature in June 2020.
As part of the process, MCS is planning an Innovation Summit on September 25-26 at the Horizon Convention Center. The event will bring together administrators, teachers, and community stakeholders with nationally recognized educators to help inform the plan.
“I believe in the transformative power of education,” Dr. Rivera-Mills said. “It is an honor to partner with our local school system. These meaningful conversations and innovative approaches will support the success of Muncie students and the community’s wellbeing.”