The power of persistence

Brian Gerhardson, ’86 B.S.B., was determined to be the first in his family to go to college. 

He paid his own way and spent seven years working toward a business degree at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, taking semesters off to work so he could cover tuition. 

That hard-earned degree led to a sales job with Land O’Lakes in Boston, then a 30-plus year career with Ameriprise. Gerhardson now owns South End Wealth Management, a Boston-based private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services. 

To offer students the financial support he didn’t have as an undergraduate, Gerhardson established the Brian K. Gerhardson Scholarship for Carlson School students who have a connection to programs for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and allies. Gerhardson, who remembers the lack of acceptance he felt as a gay man, hopes to build community among the recipients. 

He recently made an estate gift to his scholarship as well as to the Carlson School Centennial Scholarship and Fellowship Fund. Those gifts further the U’s Driven campaign, which aims to raise $4 billion by 2021. 

“The fact that this gift ended up facilitating the campaign was absolutely wonderful,” says Gerhardson, who attended the Carlson School’s Driven launch in 2018. He also served as a panelist at an alumni reunion hosted by Compass, a student organization for the school’s LGBTQ+ community. 

“If you told me there was going to be an LGBTQ gathering for Carlson students and alums back when I was here in the 1980s, I would have thought I would be the only one showing up because I didn’t know anyone else who was gay or lesbian at the University,” he says. 

Gerhardson, who describes his educational journey as “a steep hill,” has run around 50 marathons—he’s lost count. In September 2019, he traveled to Budapest to run his 12th European marathon. 

If Gerhardson has his way, no student will struggle with the level of isolation he experienced. “Having an education can make a difference in how you experience the rest of your life,” he says. 


Smart giving

As a financial advisor, Brian Gerhardson is well aware that directing his retirement assets to the University is a great way to preserve the full value of his gift.

“A dollar is worth a dollar in a qualified retirement plan such as an IRA or 401(k),” he says. “There are usually three, if not four, taxes being avoided. A dollar in a 401(k) going to my scholarship fund when I die is not going to be taxed at the federal tax, state tax, or estate tax level.”

To learn more about making a gift of retirement assets to the U or M, contact the Planned Giving team at or 612-624-3333.

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