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January 31, 2003

State Farm donates $85,000
to support insurance scholarships, research

TERRE HAUTE, Ind.Indiana State University professor Mary Ann Boose wants her insurance and risk management students to not only learn about their chosen fields, but to interact with the industry and perhaps even “give back” to the community through public service projects.

Those goals will be easier to achieve thanks to a $85,779 gift from State Farm Insurance Co. Boose will receive $60,779 of the total to help fund her research entitled “Best Practices in Collegiate Risk Management and Insurance Education.” The other $25,000 will be used for scholarships for students with majors or minors in insurance and risk management.

The check was presented Friday (Jan. 31) during a news conference in Dede III of the Hulman Memorial Student Union on the ISU campus.

“This financial support is indicative of the strong working relationship that has developed between State Farm Insurance and the ISU School of Business,” said School of Business Dean Ronald F. Green.

“The generosity of State Farm has made possible a research project that will allow the School of Business to incorporate best practices in risk management and insurance education into our curriculum. The research has also led to the development of an extensive network of insurance educators with a common goal of educating leaders for the insurance industry. The scholarship support for our students will also be instrumental in recruiting some of the brightest minds to careers in insurance and risk management.”

Boose has already begun studying “best practices” at institutions that teach insurance and risk management during a sabbatical last semester.

She surveyed institutions on everything from curriculum to their involvement within the industry; from their scholarship programs to their internship programs.

She was especially impressed by two different institutions that took different approaches to hosting symposia.

“One of the symposia was a major fund raiser,” Boose explained. “And the other was a benefit to put money back into the industry. Both provided breakout sessions and luncheons and educational opportunities for both the students and professionals from the industry. But the fund raiser was to benefit academic programs and the benefit was to put money back into the industry, as the donor of the money had specified.

Both were wonderful opportunities for students and professionals in the industry to network and take advantage of an educational opportunity.”

Boose, plans to compile her findings not only for ISU’s use, but for other colleges and universities as well.

“This is why scientists value the opportunity to observe,” Boose said. "You can talk about theory and practices, but to actually observe is a wonderful opportunity.”

Tom Plesha, agency field executive at the State Farm regional office in Lafayette, said it’s a pleasure for the company to contribute to the insurance and risk management program.

“It’s a great way for us to give back to the community and for the ISU School of Business to continue producing a great product — you students -- who in turn help us to better serve our customers. You’re doing a fine job,” Plesha said.

Plesha recognized several State Farm agents in the crowd who are also ISU alumni.

Wendy Ellington, a December 2002 graduate from the ISU School of Business, also spoke about her experiences at ISU and how it prepared her for two internships and a career with State Farm, which is expected to begin in May.

“ISU has given me an unprecedented education and that is due to the wonderful faculty and staff here,” Ellington said. “ISU has prepared me well for my career with State Farm and I want to share what it has done for me.”

Steven K. Pontius, ISU provost and vice president for academic affairs, said public institutions would not survive without the generosity of donors.

“If we are going to enhance our programs and bring them to a new level... we have to rely on the public sector,” Pontius said. “Our relationship with State Farm is very important and we hope to continue that relationship for many years to come.”

While the assistance with research is much appreciated, Boose said the money for scholarships is also a very important part of State Farm’s gift. The $25,000 for scholarships was not initially included in Boose’s proposal to State Farm. But Jack Watts of State Farm, who also sits on ISU’s Insurance Advisory Council, knew there was a need for scholarship money.

“He asked that we amend the request to include scholarship money for students,” Boose said. “State Farm is very interested in education and I appreciate them very much. In Indiana today, with all the budgetary problems in our state, uncertainties in education scholarship funds are a real concern. They’ve been very, very generous and we appreciate that.”


Mary Ann Boose, associate professor and program coordinator,
insurance and risk management program, (812) 237-2106 or

Jennifer Kearns, assistant director of public affairs,
(812) 237-8037 or

ISU Public Affairs:
(812) 237-3773 or