Jack M. Gill


Bicentennial Medal (2020)
Partners in Philanthropy (2019)
Herman B Wells Visionary Award
Presidents Circle Laurel Pin (2013)
IU Foundation President's Medallion (2004)
Distinguished Alumni Service Award (2002)
Ph.D., 1963
Honorary Degree (2001)
Doctor of Science
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Presenter: Myles Neil Brand
College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award (2001)
Indiana University Bloomington
Ph.D., 1963


As a scientist, entrepreneur, educator, and businessman, Jack M. Gill has masterfully combined personal achievement with a remarkable record of philanthropy. In 1999, Gill was a recipient of the coveted Horatio Alger Award'an honor bestowed on an elite group of 10 individuals each year. His willingness to devote his time, talents, and resources to worthy causes, higher education, and the arts, is an example of community stewardship at its best.

George E. Walker, IU vice president for research and dean of the University Graduate School, says, "He is not just a person who has been successful in his chosen career, but a person of high character whose unselfish and compassionate attitude extends seamlessly throughout his life in both directions, flowing forward from his days as a student at IU, then applying all he learned in the classroom to his career, and flowing back to his academic roots in the time and resources he's given to support education." Gill is co-founder and partner of Vanguard Venture Partners, a venture capital firm specializing in computer, communications, and medical start-up companies. Since its formation in 1981, Gill's firm has successfully raised more than $430 million from investors and has financed 100 high-tech start-ups. Over 30 of these companies have grown into major businesses with aggregate revenues of more than $5 billion. These companies have also collectively spurred the creation of 20,000-plus new jobs.

Gill's interest in science and technology has been a driving force since his early undergraduate days in Beaumont, Texas. Working fulltime to put himself through school, Gill graduated cum laude from Lamar University in 1958 with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and engineering. He earned a doctorate under Professor Marvin Carmack in the field of organic chemistry at IU Bloomington in 1962. Following his graduate studies, Gill worked in research and engineering for Varian Aerograph, working his way up through positions of increasing responsibility. In 1970, Gill combined his technical knowledge with an emerging entrepreneurial spirit, to found Autolab, a computer company that pioneered microprocessor-based instrumentation in scientific laboratories. This highly successful business, which reported $75 million in annual sales after just 10 years, created more than 400 jobs in the United States and Europe and proved to be a valuable holding for shareholders and investors alike.

Gill eventually sold Autolab to the world's largest laser company, Spectra Physics Inc., a firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange. After the sale, he was named executive vice president and group manager of Spectra Physics and was responsible for managing four divisions and some 1,500 employees. Gill left Spectra in 1981 to form Vanguard. To complement his illustrious professional career, in recent years Gill has turned his attention to philanthropic endeavors, mainly in the areas of education and the arts. In 1997, Gill and his wife, Linda, established the Gill Foundation, which annually contributes some $700,000 in gifts and grants to higher education.

Gill has unselfishly shared his time and resources with IU during the past decade. Specifically, he has served on the Kelley School of Business Dean's Advisory Council since 1998 and is a current member of the IU Foundation Board of Directors. He is also a life member of the IU Friends of Music and was a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Advisory Board in 1996. Additionally, Gill is an adjunct professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Gill Foundation has endowed the George Challis Scholarship in the Kelley School of Business and the Gill Scholarship in the School of Music. The foundation has provided endowments at IU for five chairs, five graduate fellowships, and five undergraduate fellowships, leading to the establishment of the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Instrumentation and Measurement Science in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Gill Foundation also provided the principal endowment for the Professor Marvin Carmack Lectureship in the Department of Chemistry.

Gill is an adjunct professor at Rice University and a professor in the schools of medicine and business at Harvard University. He served as president of the Lamar University Foundation Board of Trustees and received the Lamar Distinguished Alumnus Award. "Because of his long involvement with and commitment to IU, his encouragement of those around him and serving with him, and his dedication to our society and our university, Dr. Gill serves as a role model for all of us," says Gary M. Hieftje, IU Distinguished Professor and Robert and Marjorie Mann Chair of Chemistry. In 2020, Gill was awarded Indiana University's Bicentennial Medal, in recognition of his distinguished contributions and longstanding friendship and support of the university.