INDIANAPOLIS - As Ball State ramps up the celebration of its centennial, President Geoffrey Mearns says the school will continue to grow through a broader message and stronger partnership with the Muncie community. Mearns, who began his tenure as president 15 months ago, says Ball State has launched a more "visible and vocal" marketing campaign to tell its story throughout the United States. He also touts the school's "Better Together" campaign, to serve the people of Muncie and Indiana through arts and culture offerings and the recently-approved takeover of Muncie Community Schools.

During an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Mearns said support and momentum are growing for the partnership.

Mearns says local philanthropies and businesses have contributed more than $3 million to support Muncie Community Schools. He says he's hoping, with Ball State's support, that the district can stabilize enrollment over the next few years, then return to a growth pattern. Mearns estimates there are about 1,200 students who currently live in Muncie, but their parents take them to other public schools because they don't have confidence in local public schools.

Ball State last year launched its new "We Fly" marketing campaign at a time that Mearns said the school had become "a little quiet." He says he has been traveling from coast to coast to meet with alumni throughout the United States in hopes of engaging those that have only been moderately involved in the past.

The university installed Mearns as its 17th president in September. During the ceremony, he announced he and his wife were committing $100,000 to establish the Mearns/Proud Family Scholarship to support Muncie Central High School graduates who are first-generation college students. He spoke with Inside INdiana Business during a visit to Ball State's downtown Indianapolis office. He tells IIB that Indianapolis and Fishers are "areas of growth opportunities for us" as Ball State begins its second century.