HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – Ivy Tech Community College has announced former President Gerald I. Lamkin has died. He was 86.
School officials say Lamkin served as both the president of both Ivy Tech Community College and the Ivy Tech Foundation from 1983 to 2007.
Officials also say in his 40 years with the college, Lamkin served in many roles, starting as a part-time instructor in 1967. He served as a full-time accounting and management instructor before moving into administrative roles, including the business manager and director of education for the then-Indianapolis Region, Dean for the then-Munice and Richmond regions and statewide vice president of operations before assuming the presidency in 1983.
Officials state during his tenure, Ivy Tech went from an enrollment of approximately 45,000 to over 120,000 students in 13 individual regions with no transfer degrees to one comprehensive statewide community college with 23 locations.
“Our dad lived his life to help others and always wanted to see others improve their lives. A problem solver by nature, he did not believe in the word ‘can’t,”, said Jeri Criddle, daughter and family spokesperson.
Jance Perigo, former executive assistant for 32 years for Chancellor Dan Schenk at Ivy Tech who retired in 2013, said her memory of Lamkin was he was usually smiling.
“We didn’t see him often in Evansville, because at that time, he had 12 regions he was traveling between, but I remember him being a very sweet, kind gentleman,” she said. “He was a very good president and truly cared about the students.”
The Lamkin Center for Student Success on the Ivy Tech Evansville campus was officially named in President Lamkin’s honor in 2007. Officials say it serves students in a variety of ways that Lamkin felt were integral to student success. In his book, Building Indiana’s Community College – May 40-year Journey, he said, “My experiences taught me that education doesn’t stop when a student graduates or drops out. As a 24-year-old, I learned never to give up on students, whatever their economic status, ethnic origin or background, that everyone has a dream, about the life they want, and that’s it’s never too late to begin working toward it.”
“The philosophy – that individuals can improve their situation once they decide to do it – guided me and my family through nearly 50 years in education.”
Ivy Tech Evansville Chancellor Daniela Vidal says, “We are so proud to have a place on our campus dedicated to meeting the personal and academic needs of our students, so they can be successful in their college career. In President Lamkin’s tradition, we believe everyone has hopes and dreams, and we want to be there to help them realize them.”
“No single leader has had more impact on Ivy Tech than Gerald Lamkin; he was the father of Indiana’s community college system,” said Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann. “His visionary leadership transitioned the college from a vocational school and positioned it to become what it is today: Indiana’s workforce development engine.
“His commitment to student success and serving community needs led to the college’s expansion in locations, programs, degree offerings and transfer opportunities. As the college celebrates its 60th anniversary, we owe a debt of gratitude for Jerry’s vision and effort. Indiana’s higher education and workforce development landscape is forever changed because of him.”
Lamkin is preceded in death by his parents, Robert Clayton and Ethel (McLaughlin) Lamkin and brothers Robert James Lamkin and Clayton Byram Lamkin. He is survived by his wife Louise (Theilig) Lamkin, son William Ray Lamkin of Indianapolis, daughter Jeri (Lamkin) Criddle and son-in-law Troy Dempsey Criddle, III of Florida, four grandchildren (Tyler Gerald and Nolan Leo Lamkin, Alison Louise Shields and Ethan Ryder Criddle) and one great-grandson (Tyler William Lamkin).
Funeral and visitation arrangements are forthcoming, but the Lamkin family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Gerald and Louise Lamkin Scholarship with the Ivy Tech Foundation.
“Ivy Tech has always been a big part of our family, and we hope to continue our father’s legacy by creating more scholarships for students and staff. Nothing would make him more proud than for his family and friends to continue to support a cause that was most important to him, helping others to succeed,” Criddle said.