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Deborah and James Fallows are experienced, accomplished journalists who have influenced culture through their insights on politics, foreign affairs, and life in America. Together, the Fallows wrote Our Towns, a best-selling book that was published in 2018. Our Towns describes how they spent four years traveling 100,000 miles in their single-engine plane. The couple reported from dozens of cities and towns across America, and their book celebrates how these communities are successfully navigating the socio-economic challenges in America in the 21st century. In this episode, Deb and Jim talk about their life story and share some of the defining attributes of cities and towns that are on the rise.They also share observations from their visits to Muncie and why they believe Ball State’s partnership with Muncie Community Schools is “unprecedented in modern American history.” If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show.  
From 2004 to 2014, Dr. Jo Ann Gora served as the 14th President of Ball State University. During her tenure, she championed immersive learning, created a new brand—“Education Redefined”—for the institution, and successfully engaged with some of our most prominent graduates, including David Letterman.Dr. Gora shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s, what drew her to academia, and why she wanted to become president of Ball State. She also speaks candidly about the research she conducted before interviewing for the job, including crashing a Ball State alumni event with her husband, Roy. In this episode, Dr. Gora also looks back on some defining moments of her presidency, and she reveals the innovative Commencement speaker whose message to Ball State graduates made a lasting impression on her. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show. 
Dick Emens was just a young boy when his father, John R. Emens, became the sixth president of Ball State. It was 1945. That same year marked the end of the Second World War—and the beginning of a tremendous period of growth for Ball State. In this episode, Dick talks about what it was like to grow up on campus during that time. He also reflects on how his father’s transformative leadership and optimistic personality earned him the admiration of our faculty, staff, and students along with a playful nickname. Dick also shares why he and his wife, Bea, have chosen to remain so committed to Ball State. The couple are attorneys who practice law together. Together, they created the Emens Scholars Program to honor the legacy of President Emens and his wife, Aline. The program provides financial support to a select number of Ball State students entering their freshman year who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their high schools and in their local communities.   If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show.   
Brandon Pope is an anchor reporter for Chicago’s CW26. He’s also an award-winning television host, media critic, and columnist. In the years since he graduated from Ball State in 2014, Brandon has applied the skills he learned in the classroom, along with the power of networking, to stand out in one of the country’s biggest media markets. He’s also parlayed his digital media expertise into a contributing writer position with EBONY magazine.  In this episode, Brandon talks about how his distinctive learning experiences at Ball State prepared him for a fast-paced career anchoring live newscasts and reporting on some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment. Brandon also reveals why he’s passionate about giving minorities a voice in his industry and why he was honored to serve as keynote speaker for this year’s Unity Week, a popular campus celebration that illustrates Ball State’s continuing commitment to diversity and inclusion.If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show. 
Kent “Oz” Nelson is a Ball State graduate whose discipline, compassion, and common sense propelled him in his climb up the corporate ladder at UPS. In 1959, Oz began his decades-long career at UPS just two days after graduating from Ball State. He began as a sales and customer service representative, and he retired as chairman and CEO of UPS in 1997. In this episode, Oz talks about the professors and courses that inspired him as a Ball State student and how his involvement in a fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, helped him establish the connections that created his opportunity at UPS. Oz also looks back on some of the transformative moments in his career, including when UPS became the first company to deliver to every address in the United States. He also shares his professional advice to our students and his recollections of how a chance telephone call led to an enduring friendship with President Jimmy Carter. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show. 
Tiara Thomas is a Grammy and Oscar award-winning singer-songwriter who graduated from Ball State in 2012. Tiara grew up in Indianapolis and, shortly after completing her undergraduate degree in telecommunications, landed a record deal that opened the door to her professional aspirations of becoming an artist. In this episode, Tiara reveals how her dream of winning a Grammy began when she was just a young girl and how she recorded her first original song from the stairwell of her LaFollette residence hall. She also reveals her belief in the healing power of music and describes what an unforgettable experience it was to win two of the world’s most famous and influential awards in 2021.If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show. 
Renae Conley is an accomplished Ball State graduate who presently serves as the chair of our university’s Board of Trustees. Renae grew up in Muncie, earned her bachelor’s degree and her MBA from Ball State, and then embarked upon a successful and fulfilling career that allowed her, time and again, to break the glass ceiling.In this episode, Renae talks about the mentors who helped shape her career ambitions. She reveals why she loved working in the energy industry and what it was like to serve as the first female CEO of the only Fortune 500 company in Louisiana. Renae also shares more about her college experiences, her memories of her influential mother-in-law, Vivian Conley (aka “The Mother Teresa of Muncie”), and what she finds most gratifying about her role as a Ball State trustee.If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show. 
Ashley C. Ford is a New York Times-best selling author, podcaster, and educator. Her debut memoir, “Somebody’s Daughter,” chronicles her life growing up as a young Black girl in Fort Wayne, Indiana.Ashley’s book was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for publication under her imprint, “An Oprah Book.” In addition to being on a first-name basis with the former queen of daytime talk TV, Ashley has written national magazine features about other celebrities, politicians, and athletes, including actress Anne Hathaway, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Serena Williams. In this episode, Ashley talks about the challenges in her childhood, and why writing about them made her feel less alone and better equipped to process the emotional impact of those memories.Ashley also shares about her undergraduate experience at Ball State and how the positive opportunities she experienced at our University have made her want to give back to her community today. You can learn more about Ashley at You can follow Ashley on Twitter at @iSmashFizzle and President Mearns at @PresidentMearns. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show.  
Don Yaeger is a New York Times best-selling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and leadership coach whose clients include executives in the banking, tech, and entertainment industries.After graduating from Ball State, Don worked as a newspaper reporter before he was hired as a writer and associate editor for Sports Illustrated, the world’s most popular weekly sports magazine. Don parlayed his career at the magazine into a successful second career writing the life stories of some of the biggest names in sports.In this episode, Don talks about how his youth took him from Hawaii to Muncie, Indiana, about the Ball State professor and staff member who were instrumental to helping him chart his life path, and what it was like to see his byline for the first time in the pages of Sports Illustrated. Don shares the meaningful experience of writing the autobiography of his hero, Walter Payton, and what inspired him to start his own podcast, “Corporate Competitor.” He also reveals the characteristics of greatness that he’s witnessed in many of the athletes he’s interviewed along with the advice he’d give to Ball State students pursuing their own fulfilling careers.You can learn more about Don at You can follow Don on Twitter at @DonYaeger and President Mearns at @PresidentMearns. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show. 
Vince Bertram is a native of New Castle, Indiana. He earned four degrees at Ball State University, including a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in educational administration. After graduating from Ball State, Vince spent 20 years in education as a teacher, a principal, and a superintendent. Today, he serves as President & CEO of Project Lead The Way (PLTW), an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for PreK-12 students and teachers across the country.In this episode, Vince talks about his upbringing, what inspired him to become a teacher and a coach, and his memories of working with legendary coaches John Wooden and Rick Majerus.Vince describes some of the influential educators he met as a student at Ball State and the moment he knew he was ready to leave his successful career as a school administrator to lead PLTW.  Vince also shares his thoughts about Ball State’s innovative partnership with Muncie Community Schools and weighs in on how our country might address inequities in our educational system as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can learn more about Project Lead The Way at You can follow Vince on Twitter at @vincebertram and President Mearns at @PresidentMearns. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review to support the show. 
Our Call to Beneficence is a podcast that features Ball State University President Geoffrey S. Mearns interviewing guests who embody the spirit of Beneficence through their professional success and their personal service.Beneficence means the quality of doing good through service and philanthropy. At our university, Beneficence is also the iconic statue on our campus that serves as a tangible symbol of our mission and our commitment to our enduring values: excellence, innovation, courage, integrity, inclusiveness, social responsibility, and gratitude.Enjoy these conversations with educators, innovators, creatives, and professionals who will inform and inspire you. If you’d like to connect with President Mearns, find him on Twitter (@PresidentMearns). And if you like what you hear on this podcast, please leave us a review.  
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