In 1974, having earned his degrees in industrial engineering at the University of Arkansas, John Ballard was recruited to the UNL Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering. He was promoted to full professor in 1991. Ballard has published 32 journal articles, presented 25 scholarly papers and has supervised about $1 million in funded projects. His research in the discrete event simulation of traffic systems was nationally recognized.
A major turning point for the college occurred in 1994, when Ballard became associate dean for Academic Affairs, providing administrative support to four deans (Stan Liberty, Bill Splinter, Jim Hendrix and David Allen). In 2007, he returned to his faculty position.
As a student-centered professor and administrator, Ballard developed and implemented the college’s freshman and sophomore seminar series, created the college’s first web site, and started the still-successful freshman learning community (for which he obtained external funding for support). He developed the pre-engineering program, implemented the engineering student ambassador and delegate program, and helped created the COE Student Advisory Board.
Ann Koopmann, academic adviser with the University Honors Program, worked for Ballard for seven years directing student programs and noted that “a lot of the current programs for the college were started by John Ballard.”
“He approached ideas and issues as an industrial engineer,” she remembered. “He’d talk with us through the process and help us think it through efficiently and effectively. He always had his finger on the pulse of what was happening and what needed to be done to get students involved and to make an impact on their time at the college.”
A strong proponent for student outreach, Ballard instituted two targeted recruiting activities: Women Interested in Engineering Day and Engineering Red Letter Day. He was instrumental in developing the college’s outreach activities to K-12 students through Discover Engineering Day, engineering-focused sessions of Lincoln’s Bright Lights Summer Day Camp for middle school students, and Project Lead The Way for high school students. He was recognized for his outstanding record of advising with the 2003 “UNL Student Foundation Builders Award for Outstanding Academic Advising.”
“John was always willing to put resources and time into making a strong program and was very active in the recruiting efforts of the college and the university,” Koopmann said. “In typical John Ballard style, if something needed to get done, he’d walk around to the various offices until it got accomplished.”
Ballard has served as a leader in the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education. He is a registered professional engineer in Nebraska and serves as the credentials evaluator for the Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects.
He has also been part of the management team for the UNL Student Information System since 1994. He was named to the Nebraska Student Information System Steering Committee that oversaw the purchase and implementation of the current system on all University of Nebraska campuses and the state colleges. This year, he led President J.B. Milliken’s NU E-mail Task Force that reached consensus among all four campuses concerning the future direction of the NU e-mail system.