John R. Emens

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John R. Emens
President of
Ball State University
In office
Preceded by Winfred E. Wagoner
Succeeded by John J. Pruis
Personal details
Born October 10, 1901
Prattville, Michigan
Died October 25, 1976(1976-10-25) (aged 75)[1]
Muncie, Indiana
Spouse(s) Aline B. Emens
Alma mater Eastern Michigan University

John R. Emens was born on October 10, 1901, on a small farm near Prattville, Michigan.

At the beginning of his career he started out as a principal of Defer Junior High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan in 1920. Three years later he became the principal of East Detroit High School.[2]

In 1926 he received his bachelor's degree at Eastern Michigan University. The next year he attended the University of Michigan and obtained his master's degree and then became an instructor there. In 1928 accepted a position at Plymouth High School as a principal and athletic coach. After a short two years there he went to Jackson High School to be their assistant principal and director of vocational and educational guidance. He stayed there for five years. In 1935 he became the director of teacher education and certification at Michigan State. The next year he earned his doctorate there and also accepted the position of Assistant of Public Instruction. He held three different jobs during the years from 1938 to 1945: Associate Professor of Secondary Education at Wayne State University, Deputy Superintendent of Michigan schools, and Director of Personnel for the Detroit Public schools.

On August 1, 1945 he was inaugurated as President of Ball State University, becoming the sixth president of this university. He envisioned a "campus of the future" that had an auditorium "large enough to house most college functions as well as major symphonies, Broadway productions, ballets, and other forms of entertainment for Muncie and east central Indiana audiences."[3]

During his time as president he started many new colleges at Ball State University:

  • Architecture
  • Business
  • Fine Arts
  • Education
  • Science
  • Humanities

Also during his presidency many new buildings were constructed, including:

  • Residence halls
  • Practical Arts Buildings
  • Physical Science-Mathematics Building
  • Nursing Education Building
  • Athletic Stadium
  • L.A. Pittenger Student Center

Ball State University's Emens Auditorium is named after him. Planning for this building started at the beginning of his tenure, but it wasn't built until 1961, almost 15 years later.

Ball State's enrollment grew exponentially during his tenure, from around 1,000 in 1945 when he first started as president, to over 13,000 in 1968 when he retired.[4] After his first year, enrollment had already doubled.

After he retired he continued to live in Muncie, and continued to give back to the community. He was a fundraiser for the Muncie Civic Theater from 1974 to 1976. He also helped form an investment club called the Stock Watchers of Muncie.

John R. Emens died on October 25, 1976 in Muncie.

Ball State University[edit]

Emens was selected the sixth President of Ball State University at the age of 44 in 1945.[5] World War II was coming towards an end, and during Emens' time as president, Ball State saw tremendous growth in population. In 1945 its enrollment was 1,010 and by 1968 had reached 13,000.

During Emens' tenure, many different kinds of needs started to arise and a long-ter, plan was necessary for the institution. This plan was carried out for the next 18 years and the campus expanded dramatically with the construction of almost 20 new buildings. On February 5, 1965, Ball State Teachers College was renamed Ball State University due to the tremendous growth of the campus and the additions of many different departments, including the College of Architecture and Planning.

Effect on Ball State University[edit]

LaFollette Complex, BSU
Scheumann Stadium, BSU
  • John R. & Aline B. Emens Scholarship Program
  • Campus additions during presidency
    • Applied Technology Building (1948)
    • College of Business Building (1950)
    • L.A. Pittenger Student Center (1952)
    • Woodworth Complex (1956)
    • Wagoner Complex (1957)
    • Arts and Communications Building (1957)
    • Hargreaves Music Building (1958)
    • Dehority Complex (1960)
    • Noyer Complex (1962)
    • Irving Gymnasium (1962)
    • Emens Auditorium (1964)
    • Studebaker Complex (1964–1965)
    • Cooper Science Building (1967)
    • LaFollette Complex (1967)
    • Scheumann Stadium (1967)
    • Teachers College (1968)
    • Lewellen Pool (1968)

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "John Emens Dies at 75", Logansport Pharos-Tribune, Tuesday, October 26, 1976, Logansport, Indiana, United States Of America
  2. ^ "John Richard Emens, 1945-1968". Ball State University. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "About Emens". Ball State. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Biography" (PDF). University Libraries. Ball State University. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Detroit Educator is New President". The Ball State News. May 11, 1945. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Winfred E. Wagoner
President of Ball State University
Succeeded by
John J. Pruis