With apologies to David Letterman, whose fame and fortune stand as inspiration for his alma mater, here are the Top Ten reasons why Ball State University’s Emerging Media Initiative is a winner:

10 Program creates way-cool stuff. New ways to use networking Web sites, cell phones and other devices are the goal of the emerging media initiative. Students are working, for example, on a Web application that would track public transportation, such as buses, with a mobile device.

9 Tech-savvy initiative sure to be a hit with first geek president. Projects that create jobs while also furthering President Obama’s agenda to promote new technology are sure to have a leg up in the economic stimulus package. With the help of a Washington-based telecommunications firm, BSU is pushing the initiative’s capability to bring high-speed Internet access to 4 million rural households.

8 Look, Guv – no money needed! Ball State is investing $17.7 million of university funds in the initiative; two $20 million grants from the Lilly Endowment cover the cost of the Center for Media Design, where the initiative is based.

7 Program draws almost as much attention as winning football team. Two of 14 Campus Technology Innovator awards presented last year went to BSU, singling out a film course in the virtual online setting of Second Life, and Digital Corps, a program in which students are trained for industry-standard software certifications. Also last year, the digital arts initiative was awarded the Greenhouse Grant for Virtual Worlds by Blackboard Inc.

6 Hoosier businesses reap bucks. Indiana Limestone Fabricators, for example, will benefit from SmartScrap, a student-designed system that allows limestone scraps to be digitally cataloged so they can more easily be sold for profit.

5 It’s Dave-approved. At dedication of Letterman Communication and Media Building, “Late Show” host notes, “The future of media is in this building.” The facility will include an incubator for student business projects in emerging media.

4 No boring lectures. Suzy Smith, a former CNN sports producer and editor, is part of a faculty group that has students preparing feature stories about student-athletes that can be sent to hometown media outlets on multiple media platforms. Who could sleep through that class?

3 Bye-bye textbooks. Initiative draws on state-of-the-art equipment and digital tools, such as Microsoft Surface, a tabletop computer that allows users to manipulate information with their hands. BSU is among the first with access to it.

2 What else would draw Ted Koppel to Muncie? He’s one of the speakers lined up for the David Letterman Distinguished Professional Lecture and Workshop Series, part of the initiative and designed to draw working professionals to campus.

1 Two words: You’re hired. Initiative makes BSU grads marketable – like the Digital Corps student who was offered a job during a field trip to a San Francisco trade show.