Donor Stories and Legacies


Marketing Professor Endows Faculty Chair

John Gaski“It’s not difficult to create a will, but it is important. The best time to do it is when you’re young—and you’ll never be younger than you are right now.” -John Gaski

This year, Dr. John Gaski (’71, ’73 MBA) will celebrate 30 years on the Notre Dame faculty. In that time, he estimates he has taught some 5,000 students and authored 100 scholarly publications. An impressive feat, to be certain, but Gaski wanted to ensure an even greater legacy. In 2008, he did so, formalizing an agreement with the University to endow a professorship through his estate—becoming Notre Dame’s first faculty member to, in effect, provide for his own successors in perpetuity.

With the creation of the Edwin J., Jane R., and John F. Gaski Professor of Marketing Science in the Mendoza College of Business, Gaski’s name will remain a part of the student experience for as long as there is a Notre Dame. “A chair has high visibility,” he says. “It is prominent within the University and within the profession. That’s not too much for a guy to ask in eternity!”

The chair will immortalize John and his parents, Jane and the late Edwin Gaski, whose own estate will be funneled to Notre Dame through their son. Edwin, who worked in the Gary, Ind., steel mills for 43 years, and Jane, a Catholic grade-school teacher, amassed a sizeable estate over their lifetimes. Combined with their son’s estate, it is estimated that the Gaski Professorship will be worth well over $4 million when it is realized.

“As far back as 1975, when I was fresh out of graduate school, drawing up my will for the first time,” says John, “I encouraged my parents to make some provision for Notre Dame in their own will.” At that time, the elder Gaskis committed half of their estate to endow a scholarship.

Then, in the mid-2000s, John met by chance with Michelle Shakour, a longtime gift planning officer at Notre Dame, who suggested that the combined estates of John and his parents would be large enough to fund a University-level ($3 million+) professorship. With her help, and the legal assistance of the Indianapolis-based O’Koon Hintermeister, Gaski and his parents revised their bequests.

“My true agenda,” says John, “is to encourage other faculty, alumni, and friends of Notre Dame to do something similar. Professorships are so important: they attract top scholars, the very best people in the profession, to teach at Notre Dame, to work one-on-one with students, to make research contributions to their fields. The benefits are immense.”