#BizVoiceExtra: BSU and the President’s Office

Sitting down and having discussions with business, government and community leaders is a part of this communications/BizVoice editor gig that is truly enjoyable. And conversations with university presidents or chancellors are always intriguing. Most, as expected, are excellent communicators. Some (no, I’m not going to name names) give you the impression the talk might be at a higher level than the actions to follow.

I enjoyed a recent sit-down with Geoff Mearns, the 18th president of my alma mater – Ball State. The focus was to be on university-community engagement. It shifted a bit to K-12 when legislation currently making its way through the Indiana General Assembly would place Ball State in the role of managing the troubled Muncie Community Schools. (Read more on both here).

Mearns is impressive – not just in our talk but in the views of many in Muncie and beyond. A trial lawyer for 15-plus years, he says the most important skill (in that job and his current one) is listening. He’s doing just that and taking the initial steps to move BSU in the right direction as it prepares to look beyond the 2018 celebration of its 100th anniversary.

Although Terry King served in an interim role for nearly a year and a half, Ball State is coming off the still mysterious departure of Paul Ferguson. Yes, these situations when a relationship at such a high level does not work out are tricky, but as a journalism graduate of the school, it was extremely disappointing to see the lack of transparency/communication when Ferguson was suddenly gone in January 2016. In fact, he had been in our Indiana Chamber offices less than two weeks earlier for a BizVoice roundtable.

On the positive side, Beverley Pitts was a longtime BSU administrator who served as interim president for a portion of 2004 before Jo Ann Gora began a decade-long tenure. Pitts went on to the same role at the University of Indianapolis from 2005-2012. Here is a conversation we shared upon her retirement. Her journalism background – and those strong communication abilities – may have played a part in my admiration of her leadership.

A note on another BSU president. John Worthen moved into that spot in 1984 (the year I graduated) and served until 2000 (bringing some much-needed stability). And then he stayed in Muncie. The basketball/volleyball home is now Worthen Arena and I’m told the former president is frequently on hand to cheer on the Cardinals.

Indiana Documentary on Bicentennial Torch Relay Wins Spot in Heartland Film Festival

Indiana is no stranger to the bright lights of Hollywood. Even the recent movie Columbus (set in Columbus, Indiana and starring Jon Cho, Haley Lu Richardson and Parker Posey) treated the city and architecture of Columbus almost as a main character in the movie.

Another accolade that Indiana can add to its film repertoire is Everlasting Light: The Story of Indiana’s Bicentennial Torch Relay, selected for screening at the 2017 Heartland Film Festival (held in Indianapolis).

Flag of the State of Indiana

Produced by the Department of Telecommunications at Ball State University and commissioned by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD), the documentary highlights the 2016 torch relay that spanned 260 cities and towns in all 92 counties in celebration of the state’s bicentennial.

The IOTD has more on the film’s inclusion in the festival, including where and when you can view the documentary:

“We are honored to have the documentary selected for the film festival,” said Mark Newman, IOTD’s executive director. “Looking back on the torch relay now, nearly one year since it concluded, I continue to be amazed by the positive impact it has had on our state.  The way that it brought people and communities together has been a great reward.”  

The film will screen three times during the festival:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 7:45 PM @ AMC Castleton Square 14  

Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 12:00 PM @ AMC Castleton Square 14  

Friday, October 20, 2017 at 5:15 PM @ AMC Showplace Traders Point 12  

You can purchase a DVD of the documentary here.

IOTD recently received a Mercury award for best Public Relations Campaign for the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay by the U.S. Travel Association at the 2017 ESTO conference, held in Minneapolis.

IOTD is also being honored by the Indiana Historical Society for the Bicentennial Torch Relay. It was chosen as one of the winners in the Outstanding Bicentennial Collaborative Project category. A ceremony will be held in November.

During the five-week relay, students from Ball State University worked with the Indiana Office of Tourism Development to produce daily videos, photos, articles, and social media related to the relay. The team worked the same material into the 36-minute documentary Everlasting Light.

This is the ninth honor for the film, which has won eight awards including a Gold Aurora Award, a Society of Professional Journalists award, two awards from the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters, and four Accolade Awards of Merit. In addition to the Mercury Award, the entire media project also won a Summit Emerging Media Award and two ADDY’s.

VIDEO: Brinegar Explains School Corporation Size Study

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar discusses the recent study from Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research: “School Corporation Size & Student Performance: Evidence from Indiana,” commissioned by the Indiana Chamber Foundation.

Survey Says Jobs are Job One for Hoosiers

Not a major secret that job creation is a top priority right now, but it’s interesting to see it on paper. Here are the results of a recent survey about Hoosiers’ priorities from Ball State:

Job creation, upgrading K-12 education and improving government efficiency are the top priorities for the Indiana state legislature and Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2011, a new public opinion survey from Ball State University reveals.

The Hoosier Survey 2010 produced by Ball State’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs found that 77 percent of Indiana residents questioned believe that job creation is the state’s top priority, up from 73 percent last year. The complete survey may be found at www.bsu.edu/bowencenter.

Each year the Hoosier Survey provides Indiana lawmakers with public opinion on a variety of highly charged issues to be considered next session. The 2011 legislative term will include developing a new two-year budget for the state.

The Bowen Center contracted with Princeton Survey Research Associates to sample 600 voting-age adults.

The survey’s findings will be announced publicly at 8:10 a.m. Dec. 2 at the annual Bingham McHale Legislative Conference at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

Improving government efficiency finished second in this year’s results at 61 percent, just ahead of improving schools (58 percent) and making health care more affordable (52 percent).

"Creating jobs is a hot issue for many people simply because Indiana has suffered in the recent recession as the state has lost thousands of good-paying jobs," said Hoosier Survey co-author Ray Scheele, a political science professor and co-director of the Bowen Center. The survey team also includes Joe Losco, chair of the political science department, and Sally Jo Vasicko, a political science professor and center co-director.

"For the last generation or two, governors across the nation have branded themselves as job creators and Gov. Daniels is no exception," Scheele said. "In the last few years, Gov. Daniels has traveled overseas to talk to foreign businesses about investing in Indiana and he has been successful in bringing Honda production facilities to the state. I think people believe he is responsible for creating new jobs for people of all education and skill levels."