As the new fall athletic season gets underway at Indiana University Northwest, the generosity of one local RedHawk supporter has guaranteed that IU Northwest athletes will travel to their road games in style.
Milford Christenson, the owner of Christenson Chevrolet in Highland, has donated a bus to the Office of Student Life and Athletics. The vehicle is a 14-passenger Chevrolet Starcraft valued at $50,000. The Office of Student Life and Athletics, which had the bus decked out with the IU Northwest name and logo, and IU Northwest Chancellor Bruce Bergland presented Christenson with a certificate of thanks for his support on Aug. 27.
“I’m starting my 11th year as Chancellor. I don’t know of another instance where we’ve received a donation like this,” Bergland said during the presentation to Christenson. “As a wonderful way of helping our teams, this is a big deal. It adds a little enthusiasm, and it adds something for people on campus to talk about. This will be a kind of symbol (of RedHawk athletics).”
Christenson, a lifelong native of Griffith and a World War II Army veteran, is an alumnus of IU Bloomington’s Class of ’47, and he is a member of the IU Foundation’s Well House Society and the IU President’s Council. Christenson was inducted into the Indiana University Hall of Fame in 2008.
Christenson, 87, has owned and operated Christenson Chevrolet since 1951. He said that his donation of the Chevy Starcraft to the IU Northwest RedHawks represents his support of students and of education.
“My family has always supported education,” Christenson said after posing for some photos with RedHawks athletes and with Chancellor Bergland in front of the van.
Christenson’s donation came eight months after IU Northwest officials had begun seriously examining ways to generate more support for the university’s burgeoning sports program. In 2008, the men and women’s basketball teams set records for single-season victories and went to postseason play.
Chancellor Bergland held a series of meetings with Pat Giannini, associate vice chancellor/executive director for development, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Diane Hodges, and Director of Student Life and Athletics Charles Gary, Ph.D., to discuss ways of securing sponsorship for the athletics program.
“We put together a package with some letters … from our office and tried to approach a few businesses in the area,” Gary said. “We were trying to focus on getting some scholarship money to athletics so we can be competitive.”
Chancellor Bergland had worked with Christenson to secure sponsorship money for a new position at IU Northwest some years earlier, and he mentioned the business owner’s reputation for being a charitable person, especially with regard to Indiana University. After receiving a visit from Bergland and Giannini, Christenson agreed to donate a vehicle to the program.
“Milford Christenson is one of those individuals that believes in his community and supports as many local needs as possible,” Giannini said. “He has contributed to IU for many years, and we’re pleased that he was able to donate the bus to our athletics department.”
For his part, Christenson commented on how appreciated he felt after receiving such a warm personal thank-you from Chancellor Bergland and the IU Northwest RedHawk student-athletes and officials.
“It’s appreciation in me being a participant that got a reception. That’s what really hits me,” he said. “You remember that. Hopefully, (the bus) will be good for the athletes who are thinking about going to IU Northwest.”