Ray Smerge holds a special place of distinction among the College’s Golden Anniversary Alumni Honorees not only for his success as a business and civic leader but for his generosity to the University.
In 2007, the Smerge Endowed Dean’s Chair at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was established thanks to a multi-million dollar pledge from Ray Smerge and his wife Pat. It was the first endowed chair in the history of NIU, the largest gift from an individual to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and also the largest endowment gift in the history of the university. The Smerges previously jump-started a fundraising effort for the College’s Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program and the Freshman Interest Groups.
Throughout his career, Smerge enjoyed success as a business leader. Shortly after graduating from Northern, he joined Centex Corporation as a closing officer in its homebuilding group. While working full time, he attended law school at DePaul University, earning his juris doctorate in 1971 and gaining a promotion at Centex to vice president and general counsel. Centex subsequently grew to become a Fortune 500 company and one of the nation’s premier financial services, construction materials, and homebuilding concerns. He retired from his post as executive vice president and chief legal officer in 2004. He currently heads Savrola Development Co. LLC, a real estate development and homebuilding firm that he founded in Dallas, Texas.