Russell Gerdin, founder and longtime chairman and CEO of Heartland Express, passed away on Friday evening, October 14, 2011. He was 70 years old.
In October 1998, Russ and his wife Ann made the lead gift of $10 million, which launched a $35 million initiative to construct the Gerdin Business Building. The facility, located on the southeast edge of central campus, opened in January 2004 as the College of Business’ first standalone building.
Many of our faculty, staff and students have been fortunate enough to spend time with Russ and know firsthand what a great person he was. Despite his stature and credentials in the business community, he always maintained that he was “just a trucker.” He was a great family man, brilliant business leader, and extraordinary philanthropist.
Neither he nor his wife Ann ever attended Iowa State, but they believed in our young business college and the opportunities we created for aspiring Iowa business students. While their lead gift to construct the Gerdin Business Building was, and still is, the largest in this college’s history, the dollar amount was secondary to the significance and impact it created. It was a vote of confidence, a catalyst that generated a sense of momentum we are still experiencing to this day. The importance of what the Gerdins did for us simply cannot be overstated.
“I was saddened to learn that Russ Gerdin passed away. He has been a great friend to Iowa State, and to Kathy and me,” said Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy. “The Gerdin Building, home to our College of Business, is a beautiful and permanent reminder of the generosity and dedication of Russ. We extend condolences to Ann and the entire Gerdin family on the loss of a truly wonderful man.”
We in the College of Business will be forever indebted for their generosity, and we are far better for their involvement in our college and the opportunities they’ve helped create for our students.