On August 19, Ball State University President Geoff Mearns presented Ball State graduate Annie Burns-Hicks with the President’s Medal of Distinction at the conclusion of the 2022 fall convocation. Burns- Hicks graduated from Ball State Teachers College in 1958.
“After graduating, Annie returned to her hometown of Hammond, Indiana, where she applied for her first teaching job,” Mearns said. “His request was quickly rejected. Annie was told that Hammond – it’s a quote – “Hammond wasn’t ready for a colored teacher”.
After his claim was denied, Burns-Hicks filed a lawsuit against the school district and sued him in federal court. In 1960, she became Hammond’s first black teacher and was hired in the fall of 1960 at Maywood Elementary.
In January 2022, it was decided that Maywood Elementary should be renamed Annie Burns-Hicks Elementary School. The Burns-Hicks story followed Mearns’ belief of “[the] the university’s fundamental mission to do the hard work that will improve the lives of others for many generations to come.
Susana Rivera-Mills, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, opened the call by awarding 14 faculty members.
Rivera-Mills” presents[ed] awards to “those who have been designated as outstanding by their students and colleagues”.
In his annual address, Mearns spoke of the many improvements Ball State had made. He said there was an 8% increase in enrollment for new freshmen from fall 2021 to fall 2022.
He named a few colleges that have increased enrollment, such as the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP), Honors College and Teachers College. Teachers College saw a 45% increase from 2014 to fall 2021, and over the same period CAP doubled enrollment to 950 undergraduates.
The Honors College saw a 10% increase from Fall 2021 to Fall 2022.
Mearns also spoke about Ball State awards, such as its Bachelor of Animation program being named one of the top 50 programs in the United States, and the School of Art being named the top design school in “Graphic Design USA” magazine.
Mearns also recognized Ball State department and faculty that had received funds and grants, such as faculty at the Human Performance Lab that received $10.8 million over the past few years for a national research project.
Aand Marri, dean of Teachers College and professor of educational studies, received $1.3 million from the United States Department of Education (DoEd). He plans to use professional development funding for distance learning in civics, history, geography, and American media with David Roof, associate professor of educational studies.
“We are emerging from another significant disruption, the extraordinary challenge of a global pandemic,” Mearns said. “We didn’t just endure this challenge, we came out of it stronger and better than ever.”
As of May 2022, Muncie Community Schools (MCS) received $8.1 million from the DoEd. MCS plans to use the grant for student attendance, kindergarten readiness, and third-grade reading and math, Mearns said.