Ro-Anne Royer Engle, who played a crucial role in organizing Ball State’s response to COVID-19, is grateful for online options that helped the University continue operating during the pandemic’s most challenging months.
The experience also laid bare an unshakable truth for Royer Engle, vice president of Student Affairs: “If there is one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that the residential college experience will always have a place in higher education.”
Students engaging in on-campus activities gain essential soft skills that include teamwork, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, leadership, citizenship, the ability to empathize, and inter-cultural fluency.
“For so many students, it’s through engagement outside the classroom that they figure things out about themselves. They discover their passions and interests they didn’t know they had. For some, that turns into a career.”
Student Affairs supports student co-curricular engagement and fulfillment in many areas, including Housing and Residence Life, Student Life, the Multicultural Center, Student Center Programs, the Career Center, Counseling and Health Services, Disability Services, and Health Promotion and Advocacy.
Since arriving at Ball State in 2000, one key question for Royer Engle has been: “Are we creating spaces and a place where people feel they belong and have a voice?” Her answer can be seen in her leadership on Inclusive Excellence, including work on several aspects of a new strategic plan guiding Ball State’s current and future efforts.
Inclusive Excellence “should be our way of operating. We have a moral obligation to include Indiana residents who face challenges accessing higher education and to support them in the best ways possible.”
To help fulfill that obligation, Student Affairs expanded its support for growing numbers of Black and Latinx 21st Century Scholars. It also began utilizing digital technology to identify at-risk college students early and help all students achieve fulfillment.
Royer Engle sees Ball State providing even more opportunities for all students to connect with people of different backgrounds and to learn from those who hold different views.
“That is what makes the residential college experience so special,” she said. “That’s what prepares our students to become citizens of the world.” — Susan DeGrane