State Farm makes $76,000 donation

Mai Hoang

Students at the Gordon Ford College of Business will have a few enhancements in their classes next fall, but they won’t have to pay for those enhancements themselves.

The college has received a $76,000 gift from the State Farm Companies Foundation as part of its “priority school” program.

The gift will be used for student scholarships, student project grants, money for the college’s financial planning program and the creation of an executive classroom, said Robert Reber, interim dean of the business college.

President Gary Ransdell said receiving money from the private sector is

important with the university getting less state funding.

“Outside of the academic quality initiative, finding new money to support academic programs is difficult these days,” Ransdell said. “Whenever we can strengthen an academic program, it’s a great move.”

Western is the first State Farm Foundation priority school in Kentucky, and one of 30 nationwide. It was chosen for the number of Western graduates that work for the company, said G. Ron Nichols, vice president of operations for State Farm.

“For many years we have recruited at Western and had great success with graduates who are employed at State Farm,” he said.

Robert Jefferson, dean of the business college, has been in discussions with State Farm about being a priority school for several years, he said.

About $50,000 of the donation will be used for scholarships. Some of that money will fund State Farm Leadership Scholars, who are chosen in an application process.

“It gives us a chance to recruit more and better students,” Ransdell said.

About $15,000 will be used toward building an executive classroom that will likely be used for senior business seminar and master of business administration classes.

Reber said he hopes the classroom will be finished by next fall. It will include technology that will enable instructors to display information in real time from the Internet.

“It gives students a more hands-on approach,” Reber said.

The remaining funds will be used to support the Certified Financial Planner program. Western was one of the first universities in Kentucky to offer the program, Reber said.

Designating Western as a priority school is a way for State Farm to enhance an existing relationship, he said.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]