“I donate to the University of Idaho because that’s where I got my opportunities. That’s where I met my wife and all the great things that have happened to me got started there,” said Gary G. Michael, ’62.
From his humble beginnings working on his uncle’s ranch in rural Montana, Michael rose to chairman and CEO of Albertson’s, Inc., sitting on the boards of directors of several multinational corporations to his current role as Chairman of the Board of IDACORP, Inc., parent company of Idaho Power.
Michael also answered the call from his alma mater and stepped in as interim president at the University of Idaho 2003-04. He shepherded the building of University of Idaho Boise to completion with a generous donation and a tribute to his wife of 50-plus years, Meryle Kay, ’63.
Located in the Idaho Water Center, the Legacy Pointe multi-media conference room, also called “Mert’s Room” is a showcase venue for the University’s Boise center, where a number of alumni, student recruitment and community events are held.
Michael is a firm believer in giving back.
“Certainly I grew up in an environment at Albertson’s with Joe Albertson and Warren McCain, and you were expected to participate in community activity,” he said. “You were expected to give back. And I just always felt this obligation (to the University) but I knew it was going to be money well spent. Anytime you can give somebody the opportunity to go to school in higher education, I think you can make a difference.
“When I was interim president it struck me that the two things that really needed support in the future were scholarships and faculty endowments. In order to get the best students, we’ve got to have the best faculty. If we’re going to continue to be a premier school, we’re going to have to enhance the kind of package we can offer.
“You cannot get through school on your own today the way it used to be,” he said. “I get people telling me all the time, ‘Well I went to school and I worked my way through.’ Well, that was fine in those times, but it doesn’t work today. It takes longer and it takes more resources – and those of us who have those resources and have got this great life because of our start at the University of Idaho, we need to step up and make sure that these young people have the opportunity to be as successful as we’ve been.”
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