BLOOMINGTON — The name of the new $16 million classroom building opening this fall at Illinois Wesleyan University celebrates a nearly century-old relationship between the school and State Farm Insurance Cos.
The 48,700-square-foot building will be named State Farm Hall, the university announced today.
“The relationship between Illinois Wesleyan and State Farm is broad, deep and enduring,” said IWU President Dick Wilson, adding that recognizing State Farm also represents the Bloomington-based insurer’s financial contribution toward construction of the building that is being completed on the former site of Sheehan Library.
The company donated $10 million over a five-year period. The donation from State Farm Companies Foundation to the school’s Transforming Lives campaign was the lead gift followed by donations from alumni and friends. “It is now fully funded,” Wilson said. “We don’t build any new capital projects until we have the money to do that.”
“It is a signature building for us,” he added. “It will anchor the north end of the Eckley Quadrangle the same way the Ames Library anchors the south, will provide the backdrop for commencement, and will convey who we are as an institution.”
For State Farm, nationally known for its support of education, the designation is an honor, said spokeswoman Missy Dundov. “We do donations like this across the country. We really like to be involved in education,” she said.
Among the 324 IWU graduates working at State Farm is 1972 graduate Ed Rust Jr., State Farm’s chairman and CEO. “We look forward to the many opportunities that the new state-of-the-art building and classrooms bring to the university and its students,” said Rust.
Another connection is that IWU is one of 40 universities nationwide that have risk management insurance programs, Dundov said. That started with William Beadles, an IWU graduate of IWU and a professor of economics at the university, where he helped build the school’s initial offering of insurance in 1929 into a core business component at the school.
This fall, classes that have been taught in Shaw Hall since 1954 will be moved to the new State Farm Hall. The building will have 19 “technology-rich” classrooms, seminar rooms and a small auditorium-style classroom. The four-story building also will house economics and educational studies research labs, conference rooms and faculty offices for the business administration and economic departments and individual and group study areas for students, said IWU spokesman Matt Kurz.