#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.

New Blog Series: #BizVoiceExtra

There’s a phrase most writers know (and loathe, even though we understand the necessity of it): “kill your darlings.”

While it doesn’t literally mean to kill anyone, the point is that you will write things that are so witty and smart and wonderful that you have probably lost objectivity on whether the words or phrases are useful to the reader.

The only solution is to kill them! Delete. Rewrite. Either way, make sure you’re not just writing for yourself – you’re writing for the reader.

I wish I had all the room in the world – or, within the pages of our bimonthly business magazine, BizVoice – to keep all my lovely darlings and every interview and nugget of information that I find fascinating when working on a story.

Side note: It probably causes my editor, Tom, a little heartburn when I say, “Can I have a little more room, pleassssssse?” (It happens nearly every edition. Sorry, Tom!)

But we have so many great stories to tell about the people and companies making Indiana a special place to work and live that I want to share as much of that with our readers as possible.

In an effort to tell more of those stories that didn’t get into the magazine, I’m starting a new series here on our blog (and this social media manager is giving it a hashtag, of course): #BizVoiceExtra. While it’s not a total workaround of “killing my darlings,” this means I can expand on some topics that readers also might find interesting.

Look here for stories and photos you won’t find in BizVoice from me and hopefully my fellow writers (they don’t know I’m going to rope them into this yet, ha!).

Our March-April edition of BizVoice drops this week! Keep an eye out for some intriguing stories focusing on education and workforce, Indiana Vision 2025 progress and a trip through Indiana’s political history with another entry in our yearlong Road Trip Treasures series.

I’ll have a few of the #BizVoiceExtra stories from our new edition in a few days. Check back soon!