(photo courtesy of Sun Journal)
Muncie, IN – The Ball State University Board of Trustees today named Paul W. Ferguson the university’s 15th president. Ferguson’s appointment was unanimously approved at a special board meeting and press conference on campus in Sursa Hall before an audience of students, alumni, faculty and university friends.
“So much has been accomplished in the past 10 years,” said Board Chair Rick Hall, “and our current president, Jo Ann Gora, has set the bar high. The trustees believe we have found the right person to carry Ball State forward. Paul Ferguson is an experienced academic leader and scholar who is deeply committed to the mission of delivering a distinctive, high quality educational experience at a public research university.”
In his remarks, Ferguson described Ball State as a perfect fit. “Ball State has a clear and defining mission as a highly student-centered and community-engaged university. The challenges of providing an innovative and relevant education within a context of sound fiscal management have never been greater, nor has the importance of doing so successfully. Ball State has proven this is possible, and I am excited to have the opportunity to build on that success.”
Ferguson’s appointment came at the close of an exhaustive, five-month search. “The search process was thorough and thoughtful,” said Hall. “We had a large and highly engaged search committee. Before reviewing applications, the members sought input from a number of constituencies – faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members — that helped shape our thinking about our next president. The position attracted a great deal of interest, with a large number of very strong candidates. In the end, we couldn’t be happier with the result.”
Ferguson currently serves as the president of the University of Maine, the state’s flagship campus in Orono. During his tenure there, he led the university in a comprehensive and extensive strategic planning process: The Blue Sky Project: Reaffirming Public Higher Education at Maine’s Flagship University. That plan focuses on transforming both the undergraduate and graduate student experience and revitalizing the state through research, innovation and economic development partnerships. Establishing fiscal sustainability is a key tenet of the plan, with an emphasis on both research funding and fundraising.
Prior to coming to the University of Maine, Ferguson served for five years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. He has also held positions at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Louisiana at Monroe. In addition, he spent six years working as a research biologist and toxicologist in the corporate sector in California.
Ferguson holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Whittier College and a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of California, Davis. He and his wife, Grace Ferguson, have three children: David, a postdoctoral scientist at Baylor College of Medicine; Kathryn, who just graduated from the New York University School of Medicine; and Jenny, who graduated from the University of Maine last week with a BA in political science.
Ferguson will begin his duties on Aug. 1, 2014. Board Chair Rick Hall announced that Provost Terry King will serve as interim president between Gora’s retirement on June 30 and Ferguson’s first day in office.