Peru, Nebraska – Mike Gerdes’ family ties to Peru State College don’t quite reach back to its founding in 1867. But at four generations and counting, it’s safe to say Nebraska’s first college is in his bloodline.
The Peru State alumnus (Class of 1988), Auburn native, and Vice President of Auburn State Bank soon will become the newest member of the Peru State College Foundation governing board following his election at its May 19 meeting. Gerdes’ three-year term begins in August. The Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation founded in 1955 to support and enhance the college through charitable contributions and other gifts.
“Appearances at Bobcat football and basketball games go back as far as I can remember,” Gerdes said. “So many great memories and life-long friendships were made during my time at PSC.”
Fifteen Gerdes family members have attended Peru State, and his grandfather the late Harold Johnson (’38) served on the faculty for many years. His father Marv (Class of ’53) served on the Foundation board. Mike himself was a longtime leader of the Bobcat Football Booster Club until stepping down last year.
“I am fortunate to know several current Foundation board members, and I am aware of how integral the Foundation has been in supporting enhancements at Peru State,” he said, citing upgrades to the Performing Arts Center, Oak Bowl football stadium, and the current Project ROAR wellness facilities as examples.
Gerdes has been part of the leadership team at Auburn State Bank since 1991. His long record of civic service includes being treasurer of the Auburn Board of Public Works, director for the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, serving on the Auburn City Recreation Committee, treasurer for the City of Auburn, and much more.
As several of his supporters noted, Gerdes is not a passive participant. “You can be sure that when Mike commits to a task, he will see the task through in a professional, thoughtful manner,” noted longtime PSC faculty member and Foundation trustee Dr. Bill Snyder of Auburn.
Bob Engles, a ’73 Peru State alumnus from Auburn and current member of the Nebraska State College Board of Trustees, echoed that sentiment. “Mike is not someone to sit back and watch things happen. When action is required, Mike is the type who will roll up his sleeves and become engaged to ensure successful completion of projects.”
That can-do attitude is just what the Foundation seeks in its board members, noted Chair Jeff Greenwald (’71) of Lincoln. The Foundation, with approximately $20 million in assets, is in the midst of a $5 million capital campaign to support the more than $15 million Project ROAR, the biggest construction initiative in college history.
“I have known Mike for many years. He has always been aggressive getting things done for the benefit of Peru State, and we need this commitment and tenacity moving forward for both the Foundation and the College,” noted Foundation Secretary Al Urwin (’82) of LaVista.