Benefactors Don and Carol Herak Honored at 3rd Ignatian Gala

Don Herak

April 16, 2010

Gonzaga News Service 

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga University celebrated the spirit of St. Ignatius of Loyola and its many generous benefactors on Thursday, April 15 with the third annual Ignatian Gala in which legendary philanthropists Don and Carol Herak were honored with the Ignatian Spirit Award. Don Herak, Gonzaga's longest-tenured current Trustee, having served the Board since 1983, accepted the award on behalf of Carol, his wife of 54 years who passed away in 1998.

Don and Carol have always given back to Gonzaga. They provided the lead gift to expand and renovate the Herak Center for Engineering and Applied Science in 1984, and have supported the Engineering Fund along with more than 75 other areas of University need. They established and contributed to endowments for student scholarships, including the Carol L. Herak Scholarship, helped fund construction of the Jepson Center for the School of Business Administration and the Gonzaga School of Law building. They have supported the Annual Fund and have contributed their time and resources to help establish Gonzaga athletics as a major player at the highest level of collegiate competition: NCAA Division I.

Don, a 1946 Gonzaga civil engineering alumnus, came to Gonzaga from a Montana homestead near St. Ignatius Mission Church in Charlo, Mont., the town where the couple married in 1944. Upon graduation, Don spent five years building roads, bridges and dams in Montana before moving to Spokane in 1951. He built a highly successful career as an engineer and entrepreneur, having owned and operated Acme Concrete and Building Materials for 27 years before selling the company. Don and Carol were truly the love of each other's life. A Gonzaga Regent from 1972-1976, Gonzaga honored Don in 1982 with its Distinguished Alumni Merit Award. The Heraks raised three children: Donna Herak, Jerry Herak (1981 alumnus) and the late Toni Robideaux (1979 alumna). After Carol's death, their daughters created a rose garden in front of the Herak Center in her memory.

The Heraks also shared a tremendous love for the arts. They have been deeply involved with the Spokane Symphony, a relationship that continues today with Herak Night at the Symphony, in which they provide tickets enabling members of the Gonzaga community to attend.

More than 425 Gonzaga benefactors, including parents, friends, alumni and students, attended the black-tie gala for Gonzaga's signature event named for St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits. The Gonzaga University Chamber Singers, GU's premier student vocal ensemble, provided music. Presentations were made by Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh and student emcee Mike Kelsey, a senior from Burley, Idaho and president of the Gonzaga Student Body Association.

The Ignatian Spirit Award recognizes members of the Gonzaga University community who embody the spirit of St. Ignatius and inspire others to serve the common good through their exemplary service and magnanimous benefaction. Two years ago, the inaugural Ignatian Spirit Award was given to Gonzaga's Jesuits. Last year, Gonzaga honored major benefactors Harry (posthumously) and Colleen Magnuson, another Gonzaga couple who exemplified the Ignatian spirit.

More than 12,000 alumni, parents, friends, corporations and foundations supported Gonzaga last year, contributing nearly $13 million for financial aid, scholarships and capital projects. Gonzaga remains the No. 3 best university in the West in the 2010 U.S. News & World Report annual college rankings (August 2009). Gonzaga also remains No. 3 in the West among its 56 peer institutions for alumni giving as 23 percent of living undergraduate alumni gave back to their alma mater in recent years. U.S. News also ranked Gonzaga the No. 3 best value in its classification while the University also made Kiplinger's list of the top 50 best values in private colleges. Benefactors offer crucial support to Gonzaga students as 95 percent receive some form of financial aid (including loans). Gonzaga students received an average 39 percent discount from total cost in 2008-09, according to U.S. News & World Report.