Established in 1965, the year Ball State became a university, the Miller College of Business has graduated scholars who’ve become leaders in their professions and their communities. They include entrepreneurs, high-level executives in corporations and nonprofits, attorneys, and philanthropists.
Among Miller College’s more than 30,000 alumni are retired UPS chairman and CEO Kent C. “Oz” Nelson, Apple Vice President Angela Ahrendts, Housing Authority of Champaign County CEO David Northern, retired Crowe Global CEO Chuck Allen, Allegion Senior Vice President Shelley Meador, retired Vera Bradley CEO Michael C. Ray, and Skytech Products Group President Henry Hall.
Mark Myring, interim Bryan Dean of the Miller College of Business, recently sat down with Ball State Magazine to reflect on the University’s Centennial and his college’s proud past and bright future.
Which three of Miller College’s accomplishments are you most proud of?
Miller College has a proud history of providing a quality education that responds to changes in the professions our students will enter.
We have highly ranked programs in entrepreneurship, accounting, and professional selling, to name a few examples. As a college, we are accredited by AACSB International, an organization that accredits schools of business. Less than 5 percent of business colleges have earned this endorsement. Miller College has held AACSB accreditation since 1978. Our accounting program received special AACSB accreditation in 1990, and it remains one of only about 190 in world with this distinction.
One example of how we respond to the business community is the establishment the Kent C. “Oz” Nelson Logistics and Supply Chain Management Center for Excellence. We wanted to meet the need for more professionals in the industry and here in Indiana, “The Crossroads of America.” With a required internship, our program boasts a 100 percent career placement rate for its graduates.
Our college is named after Wally Miller. His bequest of $17.2 million was the single largest private gift when we named our college in his honor in 2003. About 10 years ago, we used part of that gift to establish the Miller Scholars program. Fifteen of our top students receive a full scholarship, study abroad opportunities, and other benefits. These scholars are ambitious, highly qualified, geographically diverse, and willing to explore options all across the country. They are a tribute to Miller College.
What three initiatives are you most looking forward to?
The hallmarks of Miller College will carry on into our bright future.
The years to come present true opportunities to boost lifelong learning. As technology changes industries and professions, we want to meet our alumni’s need for on-demand, flexible education.
Research by Ball State professors will improve companies, industry practices, and regulations. We can see some results now. To cite a recent example: A finance professor was part of a team that developed an index to measure sweetheart deals resulting from corporate political contributions.
We will also be more intentional in our community engagement. Already, we empower students to capitalize on their skills when they volunteer. For instance, our marketing students advise small businesses and community organizations on digital media strategies and best practices. And we have accounting students sharing their expertise working on an IRS initiative to assist low-income taxpayers. These are just a couple examples of how our students serve our neighbors.
What are three facets of Miller College that people should know?
With the realignment of programs from the College of Applied Sciences and Technology, our college’s majors now include fashion merchandising, apparel design, hospitality and food management, and residential property management. Allegre restaurant, Beeman Historic Costume Collection, and Maplewood Mansion apartments are part of us.
Our entrepreneurship program, started in 1983, has the ultimate pass/fail test that mirrors what students will face in real life. Before they graduate, seniors in the program must present a business plan to a panel of professionals. If the panel deems the plan viable, the student gets an A and graduates. If not, that person receives an F and will need to try again next year or pursue another degree program in the college.
The Whitinger Business Building, which has the best view of “Frog Baby,” is named after Ralph Whitinger, an accounting alumnus. He had a successful career as a CPA and led a meaningful life. As a philanthropist, he was a founder of the Ball State University Foundation. Inside Whitinger, you will find state-of-the-art centers and rooms, thanks to our benefactors. The Nelson Center with the Allegion Logistics Lab, the A. Umit Taftali Center for Capital Markets and Investing, the Katz, Sapper & Miller Room, and the newly dedicated Molinaro Hall of Fame Conference Room are among the spaces transformed in recent years.
How does Miller College encourage students to live the Beneficence Pledge?
We are proud of our alumni’s successful careers. Yet there is more to education than imparting knowledge. At Ball State, we live the Beneficence Pledge.
The University’s enduring values — excellence, integrity, social responsibility, respect, and gratitude — are crucial to a successful business education. In Miller College, we emphasize ethical decision-making. In their professional lives, our students will face ethical dilemmas. Those situations might not be clear cut, and the solutions might not be perfect. Yet we want our students to think about the potential outcomes and make the right decisions.
How does Miller College empower students?
Whenever I interact with alumni, they reminisce about how they engaged with faculty while they were students. That tradition of students and faculty as partners continues today. Our faculty and staff are dedicated to our students’ success in their academics, professions, and lives. The mentoring relationships they form at Ball State often continue many years after graduation.
We’re also reaching out to first-generation college students who may not have professionals as role models. When they come to Miller College, many of those students haven’t yet learned how to interact with a potential employer, so we talk about resume writing, discuss how to interact with recruiters, and hold mock interviews. In addition to technical knowledge, we’re providing them with polish and career skills. We’re empowering them by building confidence and competency.
What would you like to highlight for the Centennial?
Miller College owes its successes to many people. We have close ties with the business community and our alumni, who are generous with their resources and their time.
Ball State’s enduring values and our college’s engagement with the business community are important to our history — and critical to our next 100 years. As our University enters our second century, we are grounded in our values, lifted by our knowledge, and go confidently upward to ever greater opportunities.