University News

State Farm Contributes to New WIU Degree Program

March 12, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University students earning a degree in Western's newest program, telecommunications management, will have the latest technology for hands-on learning thanks to the generosity of State Farm Companies Foundation.

State Farm officials will be on the WIU-Macomb campus Thursday, March 22 to present the College of Business and Technology (CBT) with a $50,000 donation for equipment and software for use by telecommunications management students.

According to Kathleen Neumann, WIU computer science chair and professor, the
120-semester hour program in telecommunications management, which began this semester, is designed to meet a growing demand for network systems and data communications analysts.

"The program, which is a long-awaited complement to our existing traditional major in computer science, is a valuable addition to our department, the College of Business and Technology and the University," Neumann said. "We're excited to offer this new major to our students."

Western's bachelor's of science degree in telecommunications management is one of only three similar programs in the state.

The software and equipment will allow students to investigate such issues as router and switch configuration, server configurations and security concerns, Neumann explained. The students will also have the opportunity to work with wireless sensors and other devices, learn how to enhance wireless security and gain knowledge of wireless networks.

"We're most appreciative of State Farm Companies Foundation continuing support of Western's College of Business and Technology," said CBT Dean Thomas Erekson. "State Farm's generous donation will allow us to offer our telecommunications management majors a state-of-the-art classroom."

Throughout the years, State Farm Companies Foundation has donated more than $500,000 to Western.

"State Farm Insurance Companies and Western Illinois University have benefited from a close relationship established over the past several years," said Dan Hendricks, vice president for advancement and public services at Western. "Previous grant support, plus annual matching gifts from State Farm, has assisted WIU in preparing students for careers in business and industry."

Approximately 400 Western graduates work for State Farm in areas such as systems technology, claims and underwriting, making the company one of WIU's largest employers.

"State Farm has a long-standing commitment to education and the development of tomorrow's workforce," said Bill Miller, State Farm assistant vice president of systems. "Enabling students to achieve their greatest potential is a goal of State Farm's partnership with educators, schools and colleges."

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing