They learned about Ball State University’s (IN) exceptional use of facilities to support student success and about the innovative geothermal heating and cooling system, one of the institution’s sustainability initiatives. Forty-eight members of the ACE Fellows Program gained from Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora’s perspective on the important role that facilities and sustainability initiatives play in ensuring student success.
And the Fellows, senior leaders from campuses nationwide, also imparted some advice of their own—design suggestions for a new residence hall planned for Ball State’s North Campus.
It was all a part of a day-long Ball State site visit by the Fellows class of 2011-12, the culminating event of the program’s closing retreat held in Indianapolis.
The ACE Fellows Program enables participants to immerse themselves in the culture, policies and decision-making processes of another institution. Each Fellow participates in an off-campus placement at another institution for up to a full academic year and three week-long Fellows retreats that address critical leadership issues in higher education.
Gora, a member of the Fellows class of 1981-82, launched the closing retreat with a keynote address.
"One of the most important responsibilities for a university president is stewardship in all its forms, including financial, environmental and academic,” she said. "Because of meticulous planning and excellent fiscal stewardship here over the course of decades, we have been able to invest $418 million in eight years in the physical infrastructure of our campus, making it more attractive to students and their families, faculty and staff, alumni and visitors from our community."
The day focused on campus master planning, the geothermal sustainability initiative and planning residence halls for student success.
That led to a group planning exercise where the Fellows had the opportunity to vet their own concepts for Ball State’s new residence hall with architect Jim Curtin, principal of Solomon Cordwell Buenz, who depicted the concepts by using drawing technology connected to a video projector. Discussions revolved around issues such as identifying residence hall features to make the dorm meaningful to the mission of the institution and relevant over the next three decades.
Also lending expertise during the site visit was Doug Brown, president of Capstone On-Campus Management, who provided feedback to the Fellows’ proposals and discussed how design considerations such as safety and community development play a key role in students’ academic success and degree attainment.
"The visit to Ball State provided a unique living laboratory that pulled together so many themes of the entire Fellowship experience—planning, finances, leadership, campus vision, senior cabinet team work—and how all of this comes together to serve the institutional mission of service to students,” said Sharon A. McDade, director of the ACE Fellows Program. “Ball State University is exceptional in how it exemplifies best practices in all of these areas."
The ACE Fellows said that the Ball State campus was a valuable laboratory.
"This real-time learning experience provided a 10,000-feet executive level view of how one successfully integrates facilities management, student success and long term master planning in higher education,” said Joan M. Prince, vice chancellor for global inclusion and engagement at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. "The session generated innovative design and usage ideas from a cohort of Fellows that will add to the provocative discussion of how facilities serve students on their learning journey."
"Ball State offered an example of university leadership willing to take risk and succeeding," said Adolfo G. Santos, a political science professor and chair of the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Houston—Downtown (TX).