- Kelley School of Business Academy of Alumni Fellows (2019)
Larry Gerdes completed an undergraduate degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois in 1971. He was then given a graduate assistantship at the Indiana Graduate School of Business (now the Kelley School of Business) where he worked with Donald Sauer, a finance professor at Indiana University. Under Dr. Sauer's guidance, Gerdes secured summer internships in a Peoria, Illinois, regional bank during graduate school. He returned to the bank as a commercial lending officer after graduating in 1974. In 1976, Gerdes established a loan facility for a start-up company called HBO & Company. Larry left the bank in 1977 to become CFO of this start-up company, moving to Atlanta and helping to facilitate a successful public offering in 1981. HBO, which since grew to become one of the country's leading healthcare IT companies, was sold to McKesson for $13 billion in 2000. Both Gerdes and HBO's founder left the company in 1990 to start an investment partnership, Gerdes Huff Investments. He became chairman and CEO of one of the firm's early acquisitions, a small consulting firm in Atlanta, later named Transcend Services, that grew from under $1M in revenue to $135M before being sold to Nuance Corporation in 2012.
Gerdes has served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations. He served for 11 years, two as chairman, of the Tommy Nobis Center in Atlanta, an organization that has provided over 30,000 disabled individuals with job training and employment opportunities in its 35-year history. He was a founding board member for the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation, an organization that focuses on developing leadership skills in outstanding high school student athletes. Gerdes has made significant contributions to the Kelley School undergraduate and graduate facilities, the University of Illinois College of Agriculture (ACES), the University of Illinois Athletic Department, and his undergraduate fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho. He has also established a family foundation to allow family members to attend college through loans with forgiveness triggered by academic performance. This foundation has forgiven over $500,000 of loans since its inception.