FORT WAYNE — Trine University has received a $3 million pledge from the Surack Family
Foundation toward Trine University Fort Wayne, the approximately 110,000-square-foot
academic and training facility announced in June that will house programs in its College
of Health Professions.
“We are grateful beyond words for the Surack Family Foundation’s support for and endorsement
of the Trine University Fort Wayne project,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine
University president. “An increasing number of community members and Trine alumni
are recognizing the profound impact this project will have on the healthcare and economy
of this region, and we thank each one, including Chuck and Lisa Surack, for their
“As a lifetime resident of and longtime business owner in this region, I’m proud to
support Trine University in this effort to improve healthcare education and the overall
quality of life for the Greater Fort Wayne region,” said Chuck Surack, founder and
chairman of the board for Sweetwater. “For more than 135 years, Trine has developed
innovative ways to meet the educational needs of students as well as industry and
the community, and the new Trine University Fort Wayne project will build on that
‘Always do the right thing’
The son of 1956 Tri-State College (now Trine University) graduate Jim Surack, Chuck
Surack has achieved entrepreneurial success driven by a passion for music and a dedication
to “always do the right thing” in service of others. In his earliest days as a young
child, he displayed this commitment by making and selling potholders by the hundreds
and later managing an extensive paper route distribution team. He also credits his
time as a Boy Scout as having had a profound impact on his thinking and success
In 1979, music began to take over Surack’s entrepreneurial talents when he founded Sweetwater Sound as a four-track recording studio in the back of his VW bus. A few years after starting
his mobile studio, he turned his technical skills to sound creation on the Kurzweil
K250, one of the first keyboard samplers. Surack gained a national reputation for
his skills while providing custom sound design and recording studio consulting to
many well-known artists. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s he built Sweetwater into a team
known for its tremendous technical expertise and customer-focused approach to helping
others realize their musical dreams and aspirations.
Today, Sweetwater is the top online retailer of music instruments and pro-audio equipment
in the United States, employing more than 1,800 team members focused on serving more
than one million customers each year.
In addition to Sweetwater, Surack owns more than 10 other businesses under the Surack
Enterprises umbrella including SweetCars, Sweet Aviation, Sweet Helicopters and Longe
Optical in Fort Wayne.
Beyond business, Surack and his wife Lisa are passionate about serving their community.
It was this passion that lead them to start the Surack Family Foundation to continue
making a difference an even greater impact in northeast Indiana. As leading philanthropists
in the region, they have served in numerous volunteer roles and regularly give to
over 600 organizations annually – including music-related organizations like UPAF
and Arts United, along with Fort Wayne UNITED, The Rescue Mission, Boys and Girls
Clubs of Fort Wayne, and Easter Seals Arc of Northeast Indiana. They also contributed
toward the construction of the Thunder Ice Arena on Trine’s Angola campus.
Trine University Fort Wayne
Opening in fall 2024, the approximately $40 million Trine University Fort Wayne campus,
developed in close partnership with Parkview Health, will employ 100 faculty and staff
and serve nearly 700 students in Trine’s College of Health Professions (CHP), which
currently includes its physical therapy, physician assistant, speech-language pathology,
nursing and surgical technology programs. Located near Parkview Regional Medical Center,
the new space will allow CHP to add new programs including occupational therapy, respiratory
therapy, medical science and emergency medical sciences.
In addition to state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories, the new facility will
feature, in partnership with the Parkview Mirro Center, an innovative Simulated Patient
Care Center (SimCenter) including mock surgery and Emergency Room suites and exam
and patient rooms. The building also will contain ample resources for student support,
including a library, bookstore, gathering area, academic support and counseling services.