By: Marc Ransford—
Muncie, Indiana — Ball State’s Board of Trustees recently reviewed the proposed design of the $87.5 million Foundational Sciences Building, another step in the University’s plan to meet the growing demand for STEM professionals.
The 205,000-square-foot structure will be located in the new East Quad, just to the south of the Health Professions Building that is currently under construction.
“The Foundational Sciences Building is a significant step forward in meeting a critical need for the state of Indiana,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “The marketplace is seeking skilled and adaptable professionals who are knowledgeable, adept at critical thinking and problem-solving, and devoted to lifelong learning.”
The President noted that in the last few months, stakeholders from the College of Sciences and Humanities — specifically, members of the biology and chemistry departments — have collaborated with University Facilities Planning and Management staff and others to develop a building program that will best meet the instructional and research needs of these departments.
The new five-story building will consist of six classrooms, 28 teaching and 44 research laboratories, a research library, an imaging suite, conference rooms, computer labs, collaborative space, and faculty offices.
The design process for the new Foundational Sciences Building was guided by several goals, including incorporating the idea of wellness and sustainability; designing in flexibility and adaptability for long-term change; creating a sense of cross-collaboration between departments; and planning for possible expansion.
The new Foundational Sciences Building, along with the Health Professions Building, is part of a phased plan to replace the aging Cooper Science Complex. The new buildings will support 21st century science- and health-based academic programs, President Mearns said.
“I am grateful that the General Assembly has provided us with the financial resources to complete these two major projects,” said Rick Hall, Chair of the Board of Trustees, who noted the Board had approved the budget and scope of the Foundational Sciences Building during its June meeting. “Because of the state’s investment, we will be preparing students to fill roles in health and STEM fields in the coming decades in two of the most advanced facilities in the nation.”
The preliminary timetable calls for the construction of the Foundational Sciences Building to begin by Fall 2019 and be ready for occupancy in the Fall semester of 2021. Construction of the Health Professions Building is expected to be completed by Fall 2019 and will become the primary home of the College of Health.
In other business, Dr. Marilyn Buck, Senior Advisor to the President and Ball State liaison to Muncie Community Schools (MCS), updated the Board on the University’s community-wide partnership with MCS to improve the educational experiences for all children in the community.
The partnership is a result of House Enrolled Act 1315 (ss2018), which was approved in May by the Indiana State Legislature. The financially struggling school district was placed under state control in 2017. Over the Summer, the University appointed a new school board, and community organizations are providing $3.1 million in philanthropic support for the partnership.
Dr. Buck said that, with start of the 2018-19 school year, there is a new sense of hope for MCS teachers and staff, and for many students and parents.
“Principals have said it was the smoothest start to a school year in several years,” she said. “Ball State faculty and staff are contributing their time, talents, and skills to volunteering on behalf of our local public schools. Among other tasks, volunteers have assisted with registration, helped prepare schools and classrooms for the first day of classes, and are lending a hand with kindergarten classes and lunch at some elementary schools.
“The community’s support certainly has been key to quickly strengthening this partnership,” she said. “We have directed $50,000 to fund the purchase of much-needed supplies for MCS teachers to use in their classrooms. This will ensure these students receive the materials they will need to thrive academically as we bolster the school district.”
Dr. Buck also told the Board that Ball State will lend its expertise in the coming months as a senior level marketing class will work with the University’s Marketing and Communications division to rebrand the Muncie school district. The goal is to increase MCS enrollment by telling many of the district’s success stories.
The Board also heard an update about the University’s yearlong celebration of its Centennial, which kicked off with a special evening on September 6 at Emens Auditorium.
The event featured the premiere of the student-produced Centennial documentary, “From Normal to Extraordinary: Ball State’s First Century.” The screening, which included a live accompaniment by the Ball State Symphony Orchestra, recognized the historic impact Ball State has made through the talents of its faculty, staff, students, alumni, and benefactors.
The University is also taking its Centennial Celebration on the road to several Indiana communities. Throughout the 2018-19 academic year, the Ball State Centennial Celebration Roadshow will celebrate Ball State’s proud past and bright future. The University will partner with local United Way organizations on community service projects, including assembling literacy kits for families. The first stop was July 24 in Gas City. The roadshow will visit South Bend later today and go to Valparaiso on October 21 and Kokomo on November 2. Several more visits are in the works.
Other events planned during the year include monthly University spotlights of its various colleges; Emens Auditorium hosting the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis; a special, Centennial-themed Ball State Alumni magazine arriving in mailboxes this winter, special exhibitions, and other festivities.
For a full list of upcoming activities to celebrate Ball State’s Centennial, visit www.bsu.edu/100.
About Ball State University
Founded in 1918 and located in Muncie, Ball State is one of Indiana’s signature universities and an economic driver for the state. The University’s 2018-19 enrollment is 21,884, including 3,704 freshmen. Every Indiana county is represented among Ball State’s student body, as are all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and 72 countries. Ball State’s 780-acre campus is large enough to accommodate premier facilities and 19 NCAA Division I sports but small enough to ensure the friendliness, personal attention and access that are the hallmarks of the University.