September 28, 2004

Gift benefits students in three SIUC colleges

by Paula M. Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The State Farm Insurance Companies Foundation today (Sept. 28) donated more than $70,000 in cash and equipment to create a new, high-end computer lab, purchase eight new computer workstations and to fund nine new scholarships for computer technology majors at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

" We're grateful for State Farm's generosity, foresight and commitment to our University and our students," said SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler.

Headquartered in Bloomington, Ill., State Farm presently employs an estimated 200 SIUC graduates, is the leading auto and home insurer in the state and nation and has grown to become a leading provider of financial services.

The gift -- the first of its kind from the State Farm Companies Foundation to SIUC -- will directly benefit students pursuing computer technology careers in three separate colleges: Applied Sciences and Arts, Science, and Business and Administration.

" I was very pleased to hear that State Farm would be making a significant financial contribution to SIUC," said Marion Agency Field Executive Todd Baker, who oversees 27 State Farm agents in Southern Illinois. "The $70,000 grant will benefit the computer science, management and information management systems departments. While State Farm has always been a major sponsor of educational institutions and children's programs, it's good to see some of those dollars spent right here in Southern Illinois. This is just another example of the 'Good Neighbor' philosophy that this company was founded on in 1922."

Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement and CEO of the SIU Foundation, accepted a symbolic check from State Farm at the opening of the annual SIUC fall Career Fair in the Student Center.

"It is partnerships like this that enable the University, despite tight budgets, to invest in the cutting-edge computer technology our students must be proficient with to make it in the workplace," McCurry said. "Many people from both the University and State Farm devoted their time and energies to bring this gift to fruition and we want to thank them for their selfless devotion to SIUC and their desire to support our students, most of whom work tirelessly to help put themselves through school."

Larry H. Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management, also applauded State Farm's donation, noting the company is among many participating in today's Career Fair.

" We are extremely grateful to State Farm and all of our corporate partners who work closely with our Career Services office to help SIUC students find internship and professional opportunities," he said.

In all, $18,000 of the gift will fund nine, $2,000 annual scholarships, three each for as many years for talented students in three academic departments: information management systems, computer science and business management.

Two of the three inaugural scholarship recipients are Juanita C. White, a junior in management in the business college, and Chad William, a senior in information systems technology. The computer science department will name its first State Farm scholarship recipient next month. Here's a summary of how the balance of the money will be used:

Information Management Systems in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts

  • The department will receive more than $47,438. Of that, $40,438 will pay to equip a newly created computer technology application development lab housed in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. This facility will enable collaborations among students from several different academic departments and specialties who come together to work on sophisticated technology projects. So computer science majors, aspiring business managers and information management gurus could do everything from building a unique computer network and testing it, to solving challenges in "teleheath," e-commerce, e-manufacturing and wireless network security issues.
  • New equipment will include: three servers, 10 new Dell top-of-the-line desktop computers, eight upgraded IBM laptops and a "smart board," a high-tech interactive device that projects a computer monitor's images onto a 72-inch screen that may be operated by the touch of a finger, which acts as the mouse.

Computer Science Department in the College of Science

  • Of the total $11,281, slightly more than half will fund scholarships and the remaining $5,281 will pay for four new Dell Precision computer workstations configured to run Red Hat Linux, a widely used computer operating system. The department also will receive a donation of eight IBM laptops.

Management Department in the College of Business and Administration


  • Like the computer science department, this program will receive $11,281, with slightly more than half going to scholarships and the remaining $5,281 will cover the costs of four new Dell computer workstations. The department also will receive a donation of an additional eight IBM laptops.

Gifts such as this enable SIUC to promote excellence in education, one of the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.