Wikis > Ball State University


  • Located in northwest Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University (Ball State, BSU) is operated by the state of Indiana. The school is classified as a Research University by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. With its nickname Ball State Cardinals, the official school colors are cardinal and white, however, since about 1990, the color black has been introduced as trim for logos, uniforms and other accepted forms of school representation.

  • Ball State has been the 3rd largest university in the state of Indiana (behind Indiana and Purdue) since it’s move to university status in the mid-1960s. In the early 1970s the athletic department grew to Division I/IA NCAA classification. Enrollment as of 2011 is approximately 23,000 total students with Joanne Gora presiding as University President.


    Indiana Normal School - 1907 "Administration Building"

  • The area of Muncie, Indiana that is now known as Ball State University had its start in 1899 as a private school called the Eastern Indiana Normal School to educate teachers. The entire school, including classrooms, library, and the president’s residence were housed in what is now known as the Ball State Administration building.

  • The one-building school had a peak enrollment of 256 and charged $10 for a year’s tuition. It operated until the spring of 1901, when it was closed by its president, F.A.Z. Kumler, due to the lack of funding. A year later, in the autumn of 1902, the school reopened as Palmer University for the next three years when Francis Palmer, a retired Indiana banker, gave the school a $100,000 endowment.

  • Between 1905 and 1907, the school dropped the Palmer name and operated as the Indiana Normal College. It had two divisions, the Normal School for educating teachers and the College of Applied Sciences. The school had an average enrollment of approximately 200 students. Due to a diminishing enrollment and lack of funding, school president Francis Ingler closed Indiana Normal College at the end of the 1906–07 school year.

  • Between 1907 and 1912 the campus sat vacant. In 1912, a group of local investors led by Michael Kelly reopened the school as the Indiana Normal Institute. To pay for updated materials and refurbishing the once-abandoned Administration Building, the school operated under a mortgage from the Muncie Trust Company. Although the school had its largest student body with a peak enrollment of 806, officials could not maintain mortgage payments, and the school was forced to close once again in June 1917 when the Muncie Trust Company initiated foreclosure proceedings.

  • On July 25, 1917, the Ball Brothers, local industrialists and founders of the Ball Corp., bought the Indiana Normal Institute from foreclosure. For $35,100, the Balls bought the Administration Building and surrounding land bordered by University, McKinley, Riverside, and Tillotson Avenues, except the northwest quadrant which was maintained as a wildlife preserve (Christy Woods).

  • In early 1918, during the Indiana General Assembly’s short session, state legislators accepted the gift of the school and the land by the Ball Brothers. The state granted operating control of the Muncie Campus and school buildings to the administrators of the Indiana State Normal School in Terre Haute. That same year, the Marion Normal Institute relocated to Muncie, adding its resources to what would officially be named the Indiana State Normal School, Eastern Division. Incidentally, the former Marion Normal Institute’s campus was purchased in 1919 by what would become Indiana Wesleyan University, currently the largest private university in Indiana.

  • The close relationship between the Balls and the school led to an unofficial moniker for the college as many students, faculty and local politicians casually referred to the school as “Ball State” as a shorthand alternative to its longer, official name. During the 1922 short session of the Indiana legislature, the state renamed the school as Ball Teachers College. This was in recognition to the Ball family’s continuing beneficence to the institution. During this act, the state also reorganized its relationship with Terre Haute and established a separate local board of trustees for the Muncie campus.

Shafer Tower

  • In 1924, Ball Teachers College’s trustees hired Benjamin J. Burris as the first president of the state-funded college. The Ball brothers continued giving to the university and partially funded the construction of the Science Hall (now called Burkhardt Building) in 1924 and an addition to Ball Gymnasium in 1925. By the 1925–26 school year, Ball State enrollment reached 991 students: 697 women and 294 men. Based on the school’s close relationship with the Ball Corporation, a long-running nickname for the school was “Fruit Jar Tech.”

  • During the regular legislative session of 1929, the Indiana General Assembly formally separated the Terre Haute and Muncie campuses of the state teachers college system, but it placed the governing of the Ball State campus under the Indiana State Teachers College Board of Trustees based in Terre Haute. With this action, the school was renamed Ball State Teachers College. The following year, enrollment increased to 1,118, with 747 female and 371 male students.
    In 1935, the school added the Arts Building for art, music, and dance instruction (now used by the Ball State University Museum of Art and the Geological Science and Social Work departments). Enrollment that year reached 1,151: 723 women and 428 men.

  • As an expression of the many gifts from the Ball family since 1917, sculptor Daniel Chester French was commissioned by the Muncie chamber of commerce to cast a bronze fountain figure to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Ball brothers’ gift to the state. His creation, the statue “Beneficence,” still stands today between the Administration Building and Lucina Hall where Talley Avenue ends at University Avenue.

  • In 1961, Ball State became fully independent of Indiana State University via the creation of the Ball State College Board of Trustees, so that Ball State was no longer governed remotely by the Indiana State College Board of Trustees. The official name of the school also was changed to Ball State College.

  • In 1965, in recognition of its enrollment growth (10,066 students) and for becoming more than an institution to train only public school teachers, the Indiana General Assembly renamed the school Ball State University.

Aerial view of Ball State campus on McKinley Ave.

  • Ball State has seen a trend of near-constant growth since its creation, and current enrollment is the highest in the school’s history. Seven academic colleges now offer 170 bachelor’s, 94 master’s, and 17 doctoral degrees, a sharp increase from the five degree programs initially offered by the University. The University continues a course of improving, expanding, and creating programs of study.

Satellite and Foreign Programs

  • Australia Center

    Second only to the London Center in popularity, one of the most popular study abroad programs is the Australia Center. Students are housed in youth camp facilities in the coastal city of Lennox, Head, Australia. Day trips to rainforests and marine reserves allow learning experiences outside the classroom, and students are also free to travel the continent on weekends and during breaks.

  • Costa Rica Center

    In partnership with the Monteverde Rainforest Institute, the Costa Rica Center offers students a chance to combine academics with Central American customs, traditions, and values while serving the surrounding communities. Trips to the Center are offered as semester-long or 6-week terms. The former offers Spanish language classes, anthropology, history, sociology, and environmental studies, whereas the later provides credit for anthropology or in other participating departments.

  • Indianapolis Center

    The Indianapoils Center is high-tech, interactive education, research, information, and outreach center located in downtown Indianapolis at 50 South Meridian Street.

  • London Centre

    The oldest Ball State’s international program (established in 1972), the London Center hosts 25-35 full-time students, living in the heart of London and studying under British and American professors. Residency and course loads are pre-arranged through the University and the City of Westminster College staff to provide an enjoyable, informative, and accredited catalog from which students may choose. In addition to academic and residency provisions, enrollment in the London Center includes admission to 8-10 major theatre productions and guided tours of London. Weekly day trips also are arranged to English cities and locales at the discresion of the Director appointed each semester. Destinations include Liverpool, Brighton & Hove, Canterbury Cathedral, and Stonehenge.

  • Prague Center

    The Ball State University Prague Center is located in Prague, the breathtaking capital of the Czech Republic. The region has overcome communism and blossomed into a high-tech business gateway to Central Europe, as well as a capital of higher education, where students will be sent biannually as part of the Ball State’s newest study abroad program. Miller College of Business, along with the Rinker Center for International Programs, will host the Prague Center. The inaugural session at the Prague Center will run during the 2010 fall semester and will include weekly cultural excursions. Directed by a Miller College of Business faculty member, the center will offer classes in business as well as electives that meet Ball State’s core curriculum. These courses will be taught by Ball State faculty and local experts. Long weekends allow students the time to travel to other European countries such as Germany, Poland, Austria, and Switzerland.

  • Worcester Center

    Created in partnership with the University of Worcester, the Worcester Center offers students an opportunity to experience the best of British life and culture while earning academic credit in liberal arts subjects. Just a few miles away from Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, as well as a number of bustling cities such as Birmingham, there is no shortage of activities near Worcester.

Trivial Factoids

    David Letterman Communications and Media Building

  • The Ball State College of Architecture and Planning is one of the top architectural curriculums in the nation, in the top 3 in the midwest and tops in the state of Indiana.
  • With a strong curriculum in radio, television and media, the David Letterman Building stands as a dedication to its alumnus David Letterman. Letterman was guest of honor at the formal dedication on September 7, 2007.
  • The tallest structure on campus is Shafer Tower. The tallest habitable building is Teachers College, which, at 138 feet (42 m), is also the tallest building in Muncie.
  • Ball State has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent from 2007 levels by 2014 through the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system and the cessation of burning coal on campus.

Alumni of Note

(Sources: Wikipedia, Ball State University – History and Mission)

Ball State University: An Interpretive History
By Anthony O. Edmonds, E. Bruce Geelhoed
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