Andy Baragona, a 2003 graduate of Northwestern State University, returned to his alma mater Monday to present a $50,000 check to the School of Business’s Computer Information Systems program on behalf of his employer, State Farm. Funds were awarded through a State Farm grant program based on the Northwestern State CIS program’s mission, program history and accomplishments, organizational and program changes, how the program has maintained currency in the field, community support and declaration of need and how the funds will be spent.

Andy Baragona, a 2003 graduate of Northwestern State University, returned to his alma mater Monday to present a $50,000 check to the School of Business’s Computer Information Systems program on behalf of his employer, State Farm. Funds were awarded through a State Farm grant program based on the Northwestern State CIS program’s mission, program history and accomplishments, organizational and program changes, how the program has maintained currency in the field, community support and declaration of need and how the funds will be spent.
State Farm has fostered a relationship with Northwestern State since 2001 and recruits CIS and other business students for internships and career opportunities at its corporateheadquarters in Bloomington, Ill. This is the third time State Farm awarded a grant to Northwestern State’s CIS program, which consistently earns top honors in collegiate competitions sponsored by the Association for Information Technology Professional (AITP). Northwestern State has placed first 13 times in 12 years.
Baragona is a systems analyst, campus manager and IT recruiter for State Farm. He was a member of Northwestern State’s 2003 national championship AITP team and noted that with so many NSU alumni having relocated to Bloomington, the university’s sense of family has been transplanted along with them.
“Northwestern State graduates are well-balanced," Baragona said. "They have the technical aptitude we are looking for, as well as the personal skills. We appreciate the relationship between State Farm and Northwestern. We can come back here and find the recruits we need year after year.”
According to Dr. Jack Russell, CIS program coordinator, the grant will fund the installations of Smart Boards and projection systems in teaching laboratories, purchase laptop computers and other amenities for classrooms, fund student scholarships and aid in recruiting initiatives.
“State Farm started recruiting at NSU in 2001 because the company learned that the CIS student teams were winning national championships in both programming and systems analysis and design,” Russell said. “State Farm recruits from a number of universities, but the State Farm Foundation designates five of the top schools to apply for the State Farm Foundation Grant. State Farm named the NSU CIS program a Key program in 2003. Over the nine-year period of being a Key program the CIS program has won three State Farm grants totaling approximately $170.000.”
“This money coming into our program is terrific,” said Dr. Austin Temple, dean of the College of Science,Technology and Business. “Our students continue to complete well on a national level and this speaks well of our program.”