The Gerdin Family

Solon, Iowa

For three decades, the Gerdin family of North Liberty, Iowa, have been extraordinarily generous friends of University of Iowa student-athletes and the UI athletics program, in addition to other areas of the university.

The late Russ Gerdin was the founder and chief executive officer of one of Iowa’s most successful businesses, North Liberty-based trucking company, Heartland Express, Inc. He and his wife, Ann, have a long history of philanthropy in the state of Iowa. At the UI, they have supported the Russell A. and Ann Gerdin Athletic Learning Center, the UI Athletics Hall of Fame and Visitors Center, the J. Hayden Fry Center for Prostate Cancer Research, athletic scholarships, and the renovation of Kinnick Stadium.

Most recently, Ann, along with the Gerdin children- Mike Gerdin, Julie Durr, and Angela Janssencontinued the Gerdin spirit of philanthropy with a gift to support the new UI Children’s Hospital (

In 2003, generous support from the Gerdin family was instrumental in establishing the Russell A. and Ann Gerdin Athletic Learning Center, which provides a structured learning environment with resources student-athletes need to assist them in realizing their academic goals. In addition to the more immediate academic needs the center serves-study space and tutoring, for instance-the learning environment also fosters the kinds of educational programming that positions studentathletes for real-world success upon graduation.

They continued their support in 2009 with a $5 million commitment to the UI Foundation to establish the Russ and Ann Gerdin Family Athletic Scholarship Fund, which provides multiple scholarships each year for student-athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, and other men’s and women’s sports on a rotating basis. This gift commitment is the largest athletic scholarship gift in university history.

The Gerdins have also supported the Russell and Ann Gerdin American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Iowa City and provided millions of dollars toward educational pursuits of Heartland employees and their children through their company’s family college tuition program-just a few examples of their philanthropic leadership regionally and nationally. In short, the Gerdins are a generous, compassionate, and civic-minded family. Just as important, they are also avid Iowa Hawkeye fans.

UI Director of Athletics Gary Barta said the Gerdins’ generosity continue to bring success to the Iowa Hawkeyes and the university.

“When Hawkeye student-athletes commit to wearing the black and gold, we want to make sure they have every opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in competition,” Barta said. “The Gerdin family’s historic gift for athletic scholarships continues to help the UI provide a first-rate education, boost our recruiting efforts, and enhance our program’s financial stability.”

The Gerdin family includes son Mike Gerdin, the president of Heartland Express, and his wife, Nicole; daughter Julie Durr, events coordinator at Heartland Express, and her husband, Eric; daughter Angela Janssen and her husband, Brian, director of operations for Heartland Express; and 10 grandchildren. All of them live in Solon, Iowa—and all of them are Hawkeye fans through and through.

For generations to come, all of the Gerdin family will take pride in knowing that they’ve played a key role in Hawkeye athletic history.

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