UPDATE: Ball State chooses new president from Maine

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Ball State University’s trustees on Thursday named Paul W. Ferguson, the president of the University of Maine, to lead the 19,000-student campus in Muncie.

Ferguson, 61, has led the University of Maine since 2011. Born in Hollywood, Calif., he holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from California’s Whittier College and a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of California, Davis.

Ferguson was selected by a 16-member search committee led by Ball State trustee Wayne Estopinal, an architect in Jeffersonville. He was picked out of three finalists the Ball State trustees interviewed May 12 at the Conrad Indianapolis hotel.

Ball State’s current president, Jo Ann Gora, will retire in June after 10 years leading the university. Gora arrived as the 14th president of Ball State in 2004, becoming the first woman to serve as president of a public university in Indiana. Ferguson will take office on Aug. 1.

Provost Terry King will serve as interim president between Gora’s retirement on June 30 and Ferguson’s first day in office.

“Ball State has been on my radar for many, many years,” Ferguson told a crowd at Sursa Hall on the Ball State campus in Muncie. “I’ve always run into people who know Ball State and know it well.”

Ferguson began his academic career as a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Louisiana in Monroe, La.. He worked five years in industry at Unocal Corp. in Los Angeles, before returning to the University of Louisiana.

In 1999, he moved to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where he became vice president for research. He became provost at the University of Southern Illinois in 2006.

Ferguson and his wife, Grace, have three grown children.

During Gora’s tenure, Ball State’s applications have shot up 70 percent and the quality of its incoming students has improved.

The university has focused its mission on what it calls “immersive learning,” which involves getting students involved in hands-on projects not only on campus but in community projects in every county of Indiana.

“I am so impressed with the immersive learning concept,” Ferguson said Thursday. “I really do want to see how we can be the national model for that.”

Gora successfully raised $210 million in a capital campaign that concluded in 2011. During her tenure, Ball State has built $520 million in new facilities, including a geothermal district energy system that helped the college save $2 million per year compared with its previous coal-burning power plants.

Gora’s base pay is $446,338, and Estopinal told the Star-Press in Muncie this week that the new president would be paid at a similar level.

“Our current president, Jo Ann Gora, has set the bar high,” said Rick Hall, an Indianapolis attorney who is chairman of the Ball State board of trustees. “The trustees believe we have found the right person to carry Ball State forward.”



  • Talent costs
    The top job of any business or institution demands to be paid significant $. 500k is nothing for the responsibilities that go with this job. Not only do they have the buck stops here on every decision the university makes but the after hours functions and fund raising require this to be a 24/7 job. Those who like to complain about the dollars don't have a clue what the responsibilities entail. I want my daughters college Prez to make top $.
  • to Chip
    Why would you want to send talent to the private sector from the education world? $500K may be ridiculous money to you but the responsibilities overall and political wrangling probably justify that type of salary to get someone with sound presidential capabilities. Sure, tuition etc. is expensive and ever increasing but if you were able to review the colleges financals, $500k/yr will not realistically reduce anyone's costs but by pennies. Stop begrudging someone that gets paid well as they have probably earned it to even be considered for that level of a position. Understand that they are also the fall guy for anything that goes wrong.
  • WTH?
    Nearly a $500K salary? I got my master's degree form BSU and enjoyed my time there, but NO ONE in education should be paid that much at a state/public institution. No one. Education costs have skyrocketed faster than income, and parents have to take out 2nd mortgages AND students have to take out loans for an education. This is what is so damaging...and they have the gall to pay an administrator this amount. Here's what, if you want a salary that size, work in the private sector. Unbelieveable...and no one is talking about this.
    • corrrection
      My bad, France was 2nd.
    • 1st womean President
      I guess France Cordova was not President , just chopped liver.

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