“Go with your heart, your passion.” “We’ve hired several USF grads already, and they couldn’t be better for us. The technology they learn is more necessary than ever. But beyond employment with us, they could take these skills to Microsoft or Google,” Surack added. To further support music technology students, he and his wife founded the Sweetwater/Chuck and Lisa Surack Endowed Scholarship to assist those with financial needs. USF students also have access to Sweetwater’s headquarters and in-house seminars and education events.
Sweetwater’s $23.6 million expansion is expected to create at least 315 high-paying jobs. Construction on a 110,000-square-foot, three-story addition is expected later this year.
“I have lots of respect for Sister Elise and the USF School of Creative Arts Dean, Rick Cartwright. When the program expanded to include music, I wanted to jump on that. I love the school’s philosophy and think the downtown theater is an exciting development. I ushered there during junior high,” he said. But USF is only one Sweetwater beneficiary. “We support every organization we can, for the arts as well as for children and those with special needs. We encourage our employees to donate and serve on boards,” he said.
multiple interests, and he and my mom instilled in me the idea that anything is possible,” he said. Supported by a family tradition of empowerment and imagination, Surack also soaked up the leadership and character taught by the Boy Scouts of America. “Scouting was a huge influence, and it gave me great skills that I use to run my life today. It stressed doing the right thing,” he said. And Surack has done a lot of the right thing, including providing guidance, information, equipment, and assistance to develop and launch USF's music technology degree in 2007. With a focus on technology that produces recordings and enhances live performance, the program prepares USF students not only for employment by Sweetwater, but also for a broad range of forward-looking technical jobs. Photos by Steve Vorderman
It all points to the guiding principles in his life and what he finds most important: his relationships with God, his wife, and his daughter and sons, as well as his goal to make the world he leaves better than the one he found. “You can’t take it with you,” Surack said. “I’ve set up Sweetwater as an economic engine for the 400 nonprofits we support each year. We also operate Sweetwater like one big family. We celebrate new babies, graduations, new cars— big moments in our lives.” He has one piece of advice for young people eyeing the future: don’t compromise. “Go with your heart, your passion. Life is too short, so give it 100 percent. But you’ve gotta earn it. I didn’t have two nickels, but I worked really hard to give my life more value.” Surack counts USF as a place to follow those dreams. “I didn’t have the luxury of school, but if I had, USF would have been perfect. That’s why the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters I received from USF at commencement this year means so much to me.” saint francis magazine | fall 2012
University of Saint Francis Alumni Magazine for Fall 2012