NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: From normal to extraordinary, celebrating 100 years of Ball State

Ball State University has made a significant impact on Fort Wayne and Allen County through the talents of its graduates through the years. The News-Sentinel was one fortunate beneficiary of many talented students the university produced from its highly acclaimed journalism school, and today celebrates the school’s 100th birthday.

Ball State will kick off its centennial celebration Friday when the school shuts down at 2 p.m. for a party on the Quad for students, faculty and staff. More events are planned throughout the coming school year.

Ball State University first started accepting student registrations on June 17, 1918.

The site of the university in Muncie began in 1876 as the Eastern Indiana Normal School, a private school entirely contained in what is today’s Frank A. Bracken Administration Building. Muncie industrialists and founders of the Ball Corporation, the Ball brothers (George, Lucius, Frank, Edmund and William) purchased the land and buildings of the then-defunct Indiana Normal Institute in July 1917 and donated them to the state of Indiana. The school eventually became Ball State Teacher’s College, Ball State College and finally Ball State University.

Ball State enrolled more than 22,000 students this past year from every state, two U.S. territories, about 55 countries and every Indiana county.

This year’s graduating class included 84 students from Fort Wayne and 41 more from the rest of Allen County. The 181 students from Allen County who enrolled last fall was the fourth largest number among Indiana counties. The 6,410 BSU alumni who live and work in Allen County today also comprise the fourth largest number among all the counties in the state.

According to the 2017 College Readiness Report by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Ball State is the fifth most popular choice of Indiana schools among 2015 Indiana high school graduates who enrolled in college.

One of the best-known journalists who graduated from Ball State and worked at The News-Sentinel in the 1970s was Sam Smith, a writer for the Chicago Bulls website, who worked for the Chicago Tribune and is the author of The New York Times bestseller, “The Jordan Rules.”

Other well-known graduates include David Letterman, Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis and Papa John’s founder and chairman John Schnatter. A prominent area graduate from Ball State’s prestigious school of architecture is Churubusco native Craig Hartman, whose work includes the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, Calif., the International Terminal at the San Francisco International Airport and the new U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Other centennial events will include the kickoff of the academic year on Aug. 17 with a convocation as President Geoffrey Mearns welcomes freshmen, and the premiere of the documentary, “From Normal to Extraordinary: Ball State’s First Century,” on Sept. 6.

Congratulations, Ball State, on a rich history in your first 100 years, and here’s to many more years ahead.