MUNCIE - Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns marked his installation this weekend by helping create a scholarship for local high school students. Mearns and his wife Jennifer are committing $100,000 to establish the Mearns/Proud Family Scholarship to support Muncie Central High School graduates who are first-generation college students.

Ball State University's board of trustees is committing an additional $150,000 to the scholarship, saying the money came from the savings of not having an extravagant installation. With more than $30,000 in personal donations from Ball State University Foundation and Board of Trustees members, the school says the total contribution to the scholarship tops $280,000.

Mearns says the contribution reflects his belief that "we all must do more for our schools and our community." He says economic challenges in the city have led to fewer manufacturing jobs and a decline in population.

"I also think that we have a moral obligation to enhance our commitment to Muncie," said Mearns. "That obligation derives from a simple principle: because we cannot repay those who have nurtured and supported our development, we should pay it forward — to our neighbors and to the next generation."

Mearns officially began his tenure as Ball State's 17th president in May. He previously served as president of Northern Kentucky University. His career has also included time as a law professor and provost and senior vice president at Cleveland State University as well as 17 years as an attorney.