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Ball State president plans to retire

Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 7:31 pm

Ball State President Jo Ann Gora informed the board of trustees Friday that she will retire at the end of June.

“This year will be my 10th as president at Ball State but my 40 in higher education,” Gora said in a news release from the university. “It has been a rewarding and fulfilling career, especially these years in Indiana.”

Board president Hollis Hughes said in the release, “Jo Ann Gora has taken Ball State to new levels of excellence and recognition during her presidency. There is no good time to say goodbye to such a leader, but the university is well positioned to continue to press forward in the course she has helped us set.”

Gora arrived in 2004 as the 14th president of Ball State in 2004, becoming the first woman to serve as president of a public university in Indiana. She had previously been chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Old Dominion University.

The university underwent more than $520 million of facilities construction and renovation during the time she was president. That included a $70 million geothermal project that taps the earth's nearly constant temperature for campus heating and cooling.

One of the more high-profile events was the naming of the David Letterman Communication and Media Building in 2007, a 75,000-square-foot building that includes studio and office space. The late night talk-show host attended the event and told attendees he barely graduated with a 2.0 grade-point average.

The 18,000-student university was involved in a series of religion-based flaps over the summer. Ball State was criticized in July for hiring astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, who wrote a book arguing that the conditions that produced life on Earth suggest an intelligent design. Believers say the theory is based on scientific evidence that suggests the universe and evolution couldn't have developed by chance and that supernatural forces were at play. Gora notified the Discovery Institute think tank that complained that it would review its "Dangerous Ideas" class in a letter sent Sept. 30. The hiring came after another professor at the school was accused of teaching creationism.

Board president Hughes indicated that the trustees have begun discussions about the search to hire Gora’s successor. “We hope to have our next leader in place by July of next year,” Hughes said in the release.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.