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NORMAL — A nearly $2 million gift from State Farm Companies Foundation will propel many of Illinois State University’s successful programs to become even better, said ISU President Al Bowman.

“This supports areas of strength and builds on that foundation,” he said about the latest gift, announced today.

Most funding will aid Illinois State’s colleges of Education, Business and Nursing.

The other academic colleges — Fine Arts, Applied Science and Technology, and Arts and Sciences— also will get bites of the $1.8 million, two-year donation.

A study center for athletes and a minority recruitment/retention program are a few areas also tagged to get money.

“Illinois State University is a significant part of the community in which we do business, and our family, friends and employees attend and support ISU,” said Kellie Clapper, assistant vice president of public affairs at State Farm.

More than 25 percent of the gift — $515,000 — goes to the College of Education for its Little Village and Auburn Gresham project. That aims to increase urban teacher recruitment, as well as better prepare and retain teachers at inner-city schools.

The College of Business will use its $432,000 to focus on The Katie School of Insurance and Financial Services, which prepares students for careers in risk management and insurance professions. Earlier this year, the university renamed the College of Business building as the State Farm Hall of Business.

ISU’s Mennonite College of Nursing will get a $250,000 shot to help it take part in the New Innovation for America’s Promise project, creating partnerships between nursing educators and local schools.

Advanced nursing students will help with student physicals; and undergraduates will present health programs at area schools.

Other recipients include ISU’s actuarial science program, in the math department, and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival’s children’s outreach programs.

Bowman, and other leaders in higher education, lament shrinking state support. But he praised State Farm for and other private donors for stepping up to assist.

“Part of what these kinds of gifts do is bring a larger return on the state’s investment,” said Bowman.

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