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Ball State president from Charlottesville condemns racial hatred during Opening Convocation

MUNCIE, Ind. – Ball State’s president Geoffrey Mearns condemned racial hatred in his hometown of Charlottesville during Friday’s Opening Convocation.

Mearns, who started as the university’s 17th president in May, was born in Charlottesville, and his father was a faculty member in the University of Virginia Law School.

“Last weekend, we all watched the extraordinary — and the extraordinarily unfortunate — events in Charlottesville, Virginia. For me it was personal,” Mearns told faculty and staff during an event that traditionally kicks off the academic year. “As a child, I ran around on the lawn very near where white supremacists carried their torches last Friday evening. I was baptized in a church within a few blocks from the site where Heather Heyer was murdered on Saturday.”

He urged the campus community to continue to do the work to create a more inclusive culture on campus.

Mearns said that “all of us must condemn unequivocally, the racial hatred…the bald faced bigotry, that instigated the violent confrontation that led to the deaths of three people.”

Members of his extended family have more than 10 undergraduate or advanced degrees from the University of Virginia. Mearns’ son, Geoffrey, is about to begin his sophomore year there. His niece, Olivia, will be a senior at the University of Virginia.