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August 16, 2002

 Gongaware Scholars among ISU's finest

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. With the first class of Gongaware Scholars graduating this year, the 2002-2003 academic year promises to be special.

Elizabeth Isenburg, Joshua Simerman and Sally Martin were named the first Gongaware Scholars when the Gongaware Center opened its doors in 1999.

This year, with the addition of Diane Lund, Heather Nees and Erin Repic, 12 students will study risk management and insurance as Gongaware Scholars.

Juniors Carrie Eskew, Jennifer Gray, Courtney Boggs and sophomores Holly Handlin, Grant Rhoten and Rebecca Shorter round out this year’s group of scholars.

Two research grants have been awarded to university professors studying emerging industry leadership and operations problems. The Executive Development Program welcomes its first class in 2002 and Management Development is currently in the design phase.

The History:

In March 1998, Don Gongaware retired from his duties as Chief Operations Officer at Conseco, Inc. A chartered life underwriter with more than 30 years of industry experience, Gongaware was instrumental in implementing innovative management concepts and practices.

That same year, Don Gongaware and his wife, Pat, established at the Indiana State University School of Business, a center dedicated to the development of leaders in the financial services industry. The Gongawares’ gift to the university was the largest in its history.

The Mission:

The Gongaware Center at ISU develops leaders for the financial services industry at every level of their professional career. Starting with mentoring and advising collegiate students to coaching top-level executives, The Gongaware Center prepares our industry leaders for what’s next.

The Gongaware Center executes its mission through three initiatives: Student Development, Executive Education and Industry Research.

Student Development:

The Gongaware Center recruits top high school students into the insurance and risk management program at ISU and helps them build the necessary technical and interpersonal skills needed to become industry leaders. Scholars receive $5,000 annual scholarships renewable for three additional years if they remain full-time insurance students, perform academically within the center’s standards and complete at least one paid industry internship.

Executive Education:

The Gongaware Center focuses on creating dynamic training and development programs for executive management in the financial services industry. Programs are specifically designed to address the challenges of banking, insurance, securities and other areas of the financial services industry. The innovative design offers unmatched opportunities for individual customization and applied learning.

The Gongaware Center’s four Executive Education initiatives include: Executive Development, Management Development, The Lecture and Seminar Series, and Sales Training.

Industry Research:

By sponsoring industry research, The Gongaware Center generates new knowledge about critical emerging industry challenges. The research projects must generate bona fide opportunities to publish research results in prominent academic journals, create opportunities to present the projects’ findings before professional organizations, and add to the body of knowledge available to the financial services industry as it faces the future.

The Executive Director:

Steven Pahl has enjoyed a distinguished career in the property and casualty insurance industry, spanning 23 years. During that time he worked in executive management positions with leading insurance underwriting, third-party administration, and retail brokerage firms.

Pahl’s industry service, lecturing, teaching and publishing efforts are extensive. His article, “Choosing Among Competing Retros,” has been reprinted three times by the International Risk Management Institute. He has lectured at the risk and insurance management annual conferences, the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) Society annual meetings and seminars, and at many local insurance and risk management functions.

Pahl is past chairman of the Risk Management Section of the CPCU Society and, for three years, editor of Risk Management Quarterly. He holds both the CPCU and Associate in Risk Management designations, a bachelor of science degree from DePaul University, and a master of business administration from Loyola University of Chicago.

The Gongaware Scholars:

1999-2003 Gongaware Class

Elizabeth Isenburg: “I was one of the first three Gongaware Scholars at Indiana State University, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I assumed The Gongaware Center would help me get on the right professional path toward a career in insurance, and it has. But the best part has been the opportunities to get involved in student organizations like the Insurance and Risk Management Honors Corps, Gamma Iota Sigma (the national insurance, risk management and actuarial sciences fraternity), Freshman Council, Toastmasters and many more. I’m also involved in Delta Gamma, a social sorority.

My life at ISU is anything but dull. I thrive when I have a busy schedule. But every student has to decide his or her own pace and level of involvement. Personally, I became more involved gradually by joining more organizations each year.”

Sally Martin: “The Gongaware Center focuses on what ISU students want and need as they develop into leaders in the financial services industry. I’ve always worked hard to be a leader — in the classroom and in the community. The Gongaware Center took those skills and developed them further by giving me the opportunities and reassurance I needed.

During my sophomore year, I was coordinator of the Gongaware Scholarship process and served as a member of the Insurance and Risk Management Honors Corps and president of Gamma Iota Sigma.

The professionals at The Gongaware Center have many contacts with impressive and successful executives in the financial services industry.”

Josh Simerman: “I am a member of the first class of Gongaware Scholars. It was obvious to me from the very beginning — as early as my Gongaware Scholarship interview — that ISU was where I wanted to go to college.

The campus size is perfect for those who want to get involved and don’t want to get lost in the crowd. Recently, I chartered the first Toastmasters Club at ISU to help students improve their public speaking skills. I’m also secretary of Gamma Iota Sigma, a member of the Insurance and Risk Management Honors Corps, a member of Alpha Lambda Delta and a member of The Freshman Council. In addition to these activities, I tutor, work part time, and play intramural flag football and volleyball.

The best part about my affiliation with The Gongaware Center has been the opportunities to meet and establish relationships with professionals working in the industry.”

2000-2004 Gongaware Class:

Courtney Boggs: “I realize that many people my age are undecided about their career paths, but I have had an interest in pursuing insurance since high school. When I heard about the Gongaware Scholarship, I decided to apply because it seemed like the right fit for me. Plus the scholarship package was enticing.

When I met the Gongaware staff, I learned that the Gongaware Scholarship was just an added bonus to everything else the Center provides, including leadership development, freshmen counseling and the opportunity to work with faculty and professionals in the insurance department — even as a freshman.”

Carrie Eskew: “I was extremely active in extracurricular activities in high school … so it seemed natural to get involved in student activities here at Indiana State. I … feel very fortunate to be a Gongaware Scholar because The Gongaware Center has made the transition from high school to college easy. As a Scholar, I was immediately accepted into the Gamma Iota Sigma fraternity and was included in events geared toward freshmen. I am also involved in Toastmasters, Freshmen Council and Insurance and Risk Management Honor Corps.”

Jennifer Gray: “The best part about my involvement with The Gongaware Center is the camaraderie between all of the Gongaware Scholars. Together we are working toward our professional goals, serving in leadership positions for campus organizations, and having a great time along the way.

I currently play for ISU’s Women’s Basketball team and am a member of Gamma Iota Sigma, Insurance and Risk Management Honors Corps, Alpha Lamda Delta, Sycamore Athletes For Education (SAFE) and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

ISU has provided the best of all worlds for me. I achieved a 4.0 GPA in high school, so I wanted an academic program that would challenge me. I’ve found it at ISU. It’s a friendly place that provides so many opportunities to learn and grow.”


Steven Pahl, executive director, The Gongaware Center,
(812) 237-2442 or

ISU Public Affairs:
(812) 237-3773 or