Ball State to start discussing search for new president

Ball State University
Ball State University. (WISH Photo, file)

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — A closed-door meeting was set to take place at Ball State University in an effort to ward off a vote of no confidence in the board of trustees before the search for a new president begins.

On Monday morning, board chairman Rick Hall and board member Hollis Hughes planned to meet with more than a dozen faculty, professional staff and students to talk about their concerns following the departure of former university president Paul Ferguson, The (Muncie) Star Press reported. They also were expected to talk about how the next president will be selected.

The nine-member board of trustees will meet publicly later in the day to discuss the search.

Acting President Terry King recently convinced the faculty council to speak with Hall before it voted on a resolution declaring a lack of confidence in the board due to a lack of transparency over Ferguson’s abrupt resignation Jan. 25 after only 17 months in office. He also got the university senate to hold off on a draft resolution calling for the state Legislature to change how Ball State’s trustees are appointed.

Under current law, the governor appoints the nine members of the board of trustees, two of whom are nominated by the alumni council, one of whom is a student nominated by the university and one of whom is designated by the Ball family.

“I think the governor has way too much influence for the amount of money they provide the university,” said urban planning professor Bruce Frankel, who has likened the board to a communist politburo.

Frankel has proposed a board made up of three members appointed by the alumni association, one member appointed by the Student Government Association, one member appointed by the city of Muncie, one member appointed by the university senate and three members appointed by the government.

Democratic state Sen. Tim Lanane of Anderson, whose district includes Muncie, said the proposal would make Ball State’s process of selecting trustees “pretty different from the other universities out there,” including Indiana University and Purdue University, which have six and seven trustees, respectively, who are appointed by the governor.

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