The Lasting Impact of a UIC Business Education

As the first in his family to receive a college education, Don Hermanek (BS Marketing ’70) chose to attend The University of Illinois at Chicago for his undergraduate degree because he could commute, receive an affordable education, and work full-time at Goodyear Tires in Berwyn, IL to help pay for it. Little did Hermanek know how beneficial his UIC Business education would be.

Hermanek credits his UIC education with providing a strong foundation that extended beyond business theory. It gave him a solid understanding of “real world” business and prepared him for professional success.

Additional fun facts about Don: 

  • Don’s favorite meal near campus was on Taylor Street. First, he would stop for a Big Al’s Italian Beef with sweet and hot peppers, extra wet, and would wash it down with a Mario’s Lemonade.
  • Don loves being on the water in his free time, whether it is fishing or boating on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.
  • Don was the 2017 Keynote Speaker at UIC Business Commencement.

With more than 35 years of leadership experience in sales and expertise in the insurance and automotive industries, Hermanek currently serves as the Senior Vice President and Chief Client Officer of Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc.

Hermanek was fortunate enough to sit on the Dean’s Advisory Board as a student and had the opportunity to share his personal insights about campus life, the college, and the university. Hermanek’s experience as a student and his interactions with many influential faculty members have motivated Don to give back to UIC Business in many ways.

As a student, Don’s favorite professor was Professor Fred McLimore, the founder of the Executives in the Classroom course.  Professor McLimore created this program for students to gain an exceptional learning experience and build strong relationships in the business community. This program has continued on through the leadership of Clinical Associate Professor Michael Miller and is a program Don is very passionate about supporting.

As Hermanek stated, “The way this course brings senior business leaders in touch with students to give them firsthand knowledge of what it takes to run a business, contribute to the business world, and how to be successful, I believe makes it one of the most innovative programs at any business school in America today.” Hermanek has volunteered his time speaking with students about how to prepare for the business world, how they can stand apart from their peers, and provide them with career advice.

In May 2017, Hermanek decided, with the motivation from friend and colleague Clinical Associate Professor Michael Miller, to create a lasting impact and support students by establishing the Hermanek Family Endowed Scholarship at UIC Business. This scholarship supports first-generation undergraduate business students and provides them with the opportunity to receive a top-notch education while relieving some of their financial burdens. This was the first academic year was the first year Don’s scholarship was awarded, and the recipient, Kevin Nhan ’21, is a grateful accounting major from Chicago. Nhan spends his free time tutoring children off-campus. Financial support from alumni and donors like Don is essential to attract and retain UIC Business students, build out critical programs, and provide a foundation for future business leaders.

Acknowledging his passion for and support of UIC Business and its students, and in honor of his upcoming retirement, Hermanek’s company recently made a significant gift, adding to his scholarship fund and contributing to key programs for the benefit of UIC Business students. Don is a cherished friend and involved supporter of UIC Business, and we are grateful for his ongoing commitment to the college’s mission of transforming student potential into success.