R. Jerry Hargitt, 55BA, may live in the Arizona desert, but his decades-long commitment to the University of Iowa shows that his heart still bleeds black and gold.
Originally from Burlington, Hargitt graduated from the UI in 1955 with a degree in journalism and mass communication. He moved directly into a 30-year career with Northwestern Bell in Omaha, holding various corporate leadership roles, including vice president for public relations and chief executive officer for Nebraska, before his retirement in 1985.
Three years later, he began a challenging second career as a non-paid volunteer overseas with the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), then the world's largest not-for-profit business development organization. He directed IESC's operations in Egypt, Indonesia, and Barbados for extended periods and then performed mentoring projects of a shorter duration in the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Romania, and Rwanda. Since its founding in 1964, IESC has directed more than 23,000 American men and women to the completion of economic development projects in nearly 130 countries.
No matter how far Hargitt traveled, though, his heart remained close to Iowa. His long-term philanthropy, friendship, and community service have touched several areas of his beloved alma mater, extending from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to include the Pentacrest Museums, the Levitt Center for University Advancement, and the UI Alumni Association (UIAA).
A 50-year contributor to the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Hargitt diligently served on the campaign organizing committee for the state-of-the-art Philip D. Adler Buildingand proved instrumental in raising the support necessary to construct the 65,500-square-foot, $19 million facility, which opened to journalism students in 2005.
During the building's dedication, Hargitt accomplished a feat indicative of his focused, determined spirithe identified 50 historic journalistic terms hidden in a typographical artwork featured in the Hall of Fame room. (To date, no one else has managed to decipher and associate these terms.) In honor of his efforts to bring the Adler Building to fruition, and as a nod to his continued involvement with the school, Hargitt's name is proudly displayed in the lobby.
Beyond financial support, Hargitt has gladly devoted his time to many UI boards and committees, including an eight-year term on the UIAA board of directors and a seven-year term on the Board in Control of Athletics. This dedicated volunteer has served in many other capacities. He was elected in 1972 to the Nebraska State Board of Education; he received a U.S. President's "Call to Service" Award in 2004 for more than 4,000 hours as an international volunteer; and, in 1985, he was named Citizen of the Year by the Omaha United Way, received the Governor's Arts Award, and was awarded the B'nai Brith Americanism Citation.
A most deserving recipient of this Distinguished Alumni Award for Service, Jerry Hargitt is indeed the embodiment of a purpose-driven life marked by loyalty and generosity.
Hargitt is a Directors' Club Honor Circle member of the UI Alumni Association and a member of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.