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Ball State picks veteran leader as president

– A veteran college administrator with experience in fundraising was selected Thursday to become the 15th president of Ball State University.

Paul Ferguson, president of the University of Maine since 2011, was unanimously approved by the Ball State Board of Trustees during a special meeting before an audience of students, alumni, faculty and others. He will succeed Jo Ann Gora, who is retiring in June after 10 years of leading the 18,000-student university.

“The trustees believe we have found the right person to carry Ball State forward,” board Chairman Rick Hall said. “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.”

Gora has been widely viewed as a successful fundraiser during a period when the state share of the university’s budget has fallen to 40 percent today, from 65 percent 25 years ago.

“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,” Ferguson said. “Ball State has proven this is possible, and I am excited to have the opportunity to build on that success.”

Ferguson, 61, will take over at Ball State on Aug. 1. Hall said Provost Terry King will serve as interim president for one month after Gora’s retirement.

During his tenure at Maine, Ferguson led the university in a strategic planning process that produced a plan focused on transforming both the undergraduate and graduate student experience there and revitalizing the state through research, innovation and economic development partnerships. Research funding and fundraising were key parts of the plan, Ball State said in a news release.

Hall said Ferguson will be paid a base salary of $450,000 next year, according to the Star Press. He earned a base salary of $270,000 at Maine during the 2013 fiscal year.

Before going to Maine, Ferguson served five years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University’s Edwardsville campus. The Southern California native also held positions at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

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