State Farm Chairman and CEO Ed Rust Jr., left, and then-Illinois State President Al Bowman at the State Farm Hall of Business renaming ceremony.

Numerous academic, cultural and scholarship programs at Illinois State University are beneficiaries of nearly $1.9 million in support from the State Farm Companies Foundation.

The money, given over the course of two years, supports programs in Illinois State’s six colleges, intercollegiate athletics and campus-wide minority recruitment initiatives.

“We are deeply grateful for the continuing commitment and generosity of the State Farm Companies Foundation,” said Interim President Sheri Noren Everts. “Their investment benefits research, teaching and a variety of programs and scholarships that enhance student success at Illinois State.”

State Farm Companies Foundation funding supports a wide array of academic programs including Illinois State’s actuarial science program. The program, based in the Department of Mathematics, has been designated a Center for Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries. Top actuarial science students are eligible to receive scholarship funding through the State Farm Scholars program.

The Katie School of Insurance and Financial Services in the College of Business prepares students for careers in the risk management and insurance professions and provides educational outreach to the local community and to the insurance industry. The Katie School is a key educational partner with Illinois State’s nationally recognized undergraduate Insurance and Risk Management and Actuarial Science programs.

The School of Information Technology offers undergraduate programs in computer science, information technology and network and telecommunications management, and a master’s program in information systems. The funding supports computer equipment upgrades for IT labs, curriculum and faculty development activities, and State Farm Companies Foundation Information Technology Scholarships.

As a partner in the America’s Promise Alliance, State Farm supports numerous education initiatives in elementary and secondary schools. The New Innovation for America’s Promise project in Illinois State’s Mennonite College of Nursing creates partnerships between nursing faculty and students and school leaders in the community. The funding also supports programs that help Mennonite’s students master nursing knowledge and skills to prepare for successful completion of the nursing licensure exam.

Grant funding benefits the College of Education’s Little Village and Auburn Gresham project. Part of the College’s larger Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline project, the program works with public schools in Chicago’s Little Village and Auburn Gresham communities, with the overall goal of increasing urban teacher recruitment and improving preparation and retention of teachers in hard-to-staff inner-city schools.

The Illinois Shakespeare Festival has brought the work of The Bard to Central Illinois audiences since 1978. Having achieved national acclaim, the Festival consistently attracts top university and professional theatre talent to its summer productions in the Theatre at Ewing. Foundation funding enhances outreach programs designed to introduce local school children and community members to live theatre and the works of Shakespeare.

The funding supports the Karin L. Bone Athletics Study Center, which provides academic services to more than 400 student-athletes participating in 19 sports. In the fall 2012 semester, 247 Redbird athletes were named to the honor roll (3.0+ GPA) and 54 received a 4.0 GPA.

Illinois State’s efforts to enhance the recruitment, retention and graduation rates of students from underrepresented groups are getting a boost thanks to the Foundation’s contribution to the Minority Achievement Program. The funding goes to programs that bring first-generation college students to campus. The University’s minority recruitment, retention and graduation rates have increased dramatically in recent years and rank far above state and national averages.

State Farm has been a longtime supporter of Illinois State. In recognition of that support, the University’s College of Business Building was renamed the State Farm Hall of Business in 2011. State Farm currently employs more than 4,000 Illinois State graduates.