A gift of $3 million from State Farm will advance Illinois State University’s new cybersecurity program.

The gift establishes an endowed chair position that will provide leadership for the newly-created major in cybersecurity in the School of Information Technology, as well as funding for program enhancements and renovation of existing space to strengthen the learning environment for students.

“Illinois State’s new cybersecurity program will focus on a topic of critical importance to society,” said Illinois State University President Larry Dietz. “This innovative new major is one additional way we can help our students succeed in a technology-driven world. We are thankful State Farm recognized the importance of this program and chose to support us by funding learning space updates and a leadership position.”

The State Farm Chair in Cybersecurity will take the lead in overseeing curriculum, setting personal and team research agendas, securing grants, and maintaining the School’s designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Other responsibilities will include organizing and coordinating events such as the Central Illinois High School Cyber Defense Competition and collegiate cybersecurity competitions.

“State Farm and the State Farm Companies Foundation are pleased to provide this gift to help support the beginning of the cybersecurity program at Illinois State,” said Kellie Clapper, AVP – Human Resources/Philanthropy. “We realize the growing need for talented students to meet the challenges of online security in the 21st century. We believe this program is a critical part of providing qualified professionals across all industries.”

Illinois State University is the first university in Illinois with a cybersecurity major. The major will be available to students in fall 2017 and includes courses focused on defensive security, offensive security, and a combination of security incident and event management with forensics.

To learn more about the cybersecurity major, visit IT.IllinoisState.edu. For information about ways to support innovative learning at Illinois State University, visit Giving.IllinoisState.edu.