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IU Northwest News

NIPSCO: Committed to IU Northwest, and the region it serves


Supporting the campus is one of a myriad of ways the state’s largest energy company works toward this goal

Wednesday Sep 02, 2015


Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), serves natural gas and electric customers across the northern third of Indiana. One of seven energy distribution companies of NiSource, the Merrillville-based company is the largest natural gas distributor and second largest electric distributor in the state.

In much the same way that NIPSCO touches a majority of the residents in the region, Indiana University Northwest maintains a similar presence in the lives of so many in NIPSCO’s service area. The combined impact of both of these institutions on enhancing the quality of life in Northwest Indiana is significant.

IU Northwest is fortunate to be a beneficiary of NIPSCO’s support. It’s clear the company cares about what IU Northwest’s students are learning, and who it serves, as much as the University does. After all, NIPSCO employs many who are IU Northwest graduates and still more whose families are receiving an IU Northwest education.

Recognizing the company’s enduring commitment to the University and its impact on the entire region, IU Northwest is proud to honor NIPSCO at its upcoming Chancellor’s Medallion Celebration, an annual event that celebrates the University’s philanthropic partners and the students that benefit from scholarships.

NIPSCO is committed to supporting and enhancing the quality of life across northern Indiana through community partnerships, volunteering, charitable giving and economic development. Each year, the NIPSCO team donates time, money and other resources to hundreds of local philanthropic organizations.

Michael Suggs, NIPSCO’s Director of Operations Integration and Strategy, said that supporting IU Northwest is part of the company’s overall commitment to its communities and its employees.

“Our employees live in these communities,” Suggs said. “We live here, we work here and we understand that as we support the communities at all levels, including through academia, it makes a better place for our employees to live and work.”

By way of an endowed scholarship created in 1999, NIPSCO supports students as they pursue their goals. To date, the scholarship has assisted more than 15 students. NIPSCO has also supported the beautification efforts of the campus. For example, the company financed the construction of the entryway signs at Broadway and 33rd Avenue.

Another significant contribution that NIPSCO makes to the University is through its involvement with the Chancellor’s Commission for Community Engagement, the Board of Advisors, and the School of Business and Economics’ Advisory Board.

Having a seat at the table of professionals who consult on what students should be learning ensures a well-prepared and effective workforce.

“We feel valued by the University,” Suggs said about his experience serving on University boards and committees. “We feel the University is interested in serving our needs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked about what are those things that we are looking for in IU Northwest graduates. To have that opportunity to tailor a relationship with local leadership is invaluable.”

For IU Northwest students, NIPSCO’s involvement translates into high-level learning they can apply anywhere.

“Students at IU Northwest have a rare opportunity to learn how to become marketable within a Fortune 500 environment,” Suggs said. “That’s not something that you really think about as much in Northwest Indiana, but it’s happening right here. Students who learn at IU Northwest are able to be competitive in one of the largest utilities in the country.”

NIPSCO doesn’t take lightly the opportunity to “shop for the best employees” right in their own backyard.

“It’s been remarkable for us,” Suggs said. “Not only do we help the traditional student graduating from high school and who wants to go to a commuter institution, but we have employees who are front-line, entry-level employees and some of them are going on to get their MBAs and are looking at universities, and IU Northwest is a very competitive choice for us. Our employees can readily better themselves and prepare themselves for opportunities within our organization.”

Suggs speaks from personal experience about the value of giving back, not just on a corporate level, but a personal one.

An alumnus of IU Bloomington, Suggs benefitted from a mentoring program for first-generation, minority students while he was an undergraduate, so he knows firsthand how much it means to be on the receiving end of philanthropy.

“That’s why it’s always been important for me to make sure that we realize that students come to college with various levels of preparation for their future,” Suggs said. “For the University to provide that to me back then was a big opener for me and my personal career. The experience also prompted me to provide support for others along the way. I’ve had a successful career and I’m happy with what I’ve been able to achieve. All of that was part of the start I received at IU Bloomington.”

As a representative of NIPSCO, Suggs is honored to be able to facilitate corporate-level support to students.

“To support those that would not have the opportunity is very important. Education is very expensive,” Suggs said. “There are a lot of talented students out there who can’t afford their education and to be able to support that, whether it’s on a personal level or a corporate level, we want to help more. We want to make sure we help as many as we can.”

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