Jo Ann Gora: Raising awareness, money and performance at Ball State University
Outgoing president gives last report, big party after Saturday graduation
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Let's get this party started, as Rick Hall, chairman of the Ball State board of trustees, said after President Jo Ann Gora gave her last president's report on Friday.
Gora's retirement party on Saturday combined with Ball State graduation, with Congressman Luke Messer giving the commencement address, is the big story on campus this week.
The trustees met Friday to spend more money granted by the Indiana General Assembly, raise student service fees and professional and faculty salaries by three percent and also name a new footfall team complex after Fort Wayne givers Ron and Joan Venderly.
Gora offered plenty of accomplishments in her last report, from a record number of applicants, more than 17,900 for 2014-15, average test scores of those applicants up 30 percent, and 100 percent passing rate on IRead tests at Burris.
Of course, there were also accomplishments about winning spring sports teams after the men's basketball team turned in the worst record in history and a national champion in speech.
Hall expressed amazement at all the accomplishments Gora talked about Friday besides her performance during the last decade at the university.
Gora raised more than half a billion dollars for the university, put the school on the world map, and also undertook the largest geo-thermal power system in the county to heat and cool campus buildings.
But as new trustee Renae Conley, a retired utility executive found, there is no stopping Gora from accomplishing more as she and husband Roy Budd retire to Virginia.
While the trustees named the football complex after the Merrill Lynch trader and former teacher and his wife, they were not ready to name a new president.
Trustee Wayne Estopinal said the search was narrowed to three and it would not be a celebrity like Oprah Winfrey or David Letterman, who appeared at Ball State, or a politician like former governor Evan Bayh.
The trustees do plan to make an appointment later this month and before Gora leaves on June 30.
Ball State also unveiled its board by committee approach that provides details of money and policy of the institution during three committee meeting with board action then being almost a formality.
Hall pointed out the process, saying it would streamline board meetings but still give more time for discussion and debate in committee meetings.
Faculty and staff representatives did not have any clue Friday who the next president would be on how the university might evolve after Gora's departure.