IU honors four loyal volunteers as 2015 Partners in Philanthropy

  • June 5, 2015


INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University and the IU Foundation have honored four individuals as 2015 Partners in Philanthropy. IU President Michael A. McRobbie and IU Foundation President and CEO Daniel C. Smith presented the awards June 4, recognizing outstanding volunteer leaders whose vital service and contributions help shape the future of the university at the highest levels.

"In each of these philanthropic leaders we see an uncommon commitment to Indiana University," McRobbie said. "Their extraordinary efforts have benefited an array of programs, schools and campuses across the university. The generosity, passion and leadership of our honorees speak to the truest IU traditions of excellence and service, and we are deeply indebted to each of them."

Honorees received one of three awards: the Cornerstone, Keystone and Herman B Wells Visionary awards. Each year, nominations are solicited from all IU campuses. A committee of representatives from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, IU Bloomington and regional campuses select the award recipients.

"These exceptional individuals have demonstrated how volunteerism and determination enable IU to advance the frontiers of education and research," Smith said. "Through their gifts of time and treasure, they continue to inspire students, support faculty and promote research. Philanthropy at this level enriches society as a whole."

Cornerstone Award

Mark S. Leonard (BS '77, MA '79) received the Cornerstone Award, which recognizes individuals whose partnership and volunteer involvement have been instrumental in the success of a single IU philanthropic initiative for a campus, program or school.

Though he came to IU to earn a degree in astrophysics, Leonard discovered his true calling in the geological sciences master’s program. His IU education led to a successful career in petroleum exploration, culminating in his role at Shell Oil Co. as senior vice president of exploration and production.

Grateful for the opportunities he had at IU, Leonard served on the IU Geological Sciences Alumni Advisory Board from 2001 to 2010 and currently sits on the College Executive Dean’s Advisory Board. He helped solidify the future of IU's Judson Mead Geologic Field Station in Montana by spearheading and exceeding the $3 million campaign goal. In the final year of the campaign, he helped oversee the construction of a new classroom building and a reorganization of the staffing and structure of the summer field program. Leonard has also established a fund to spur undergraduates' interest in astronomy.

View a video biography of Mark Leonard.

Keystone Award

The Keystone Award, which recognizes individuals who have shown exemplary volunteer leadership through multiple IU fundraising campaigns, was presented to Katherine Lazerwitz (BS '49, MS '71).

Born and raised in northwest Indiana, Lazerwitz is a retired teacher and tenacious volunteer leader who is committed to improving society through education and the arts. As co-chair for the Class of 1949 Campaign committee, she helped raise more than $500,000 for the Indiana University Art Museum. She and her late husband Jim established the Visiting Jazz Artists Endowment Fund at the Jacobs School of Music, which she continues to support annually. In addition to endowing a scholarship and an enrichment fund for special education teachers in the School of Education, she made a significant gift to WTIU Public Television for their children's program.

Other university organizations that have benefitted from Lazerwitz's support and leadership include Athletics, the IU Auditorium, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Indiana Memorial Union, Information and Library Science, IU Libraries, IU Northwest, the Jacobs School of Music, the Kelley School of Business and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Lazerwitz received the Chancellor's Medallion in 1998 from IU Northwest and the Indiana University Alumni Association's President's Award in 1997.

View a video biography of Katherine Lazerwitz.

Herman B Wells Visionary Award

Louis L. (B.S. '56) and Sybil Stern Mervis received the Herman B Wells Visionary Award, which recognizes those whose lifetime volunteer commitment to IU reveals a deep understanding of the power of philanthropy to shape the future of the institution and a determination to see that future realized.

Lou and Sybil Mervis have worked diligently to fulfill the Jewish principle of "tikkun olam" (healing the world) through their lifelong leadership and service on behalf of the university. They have provided exceptionally generous support of the Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University. In addition to establishing the Lou and Sybil Mervis Chair in Jewish Cultural Studies, three scholarships for undergraduates in Jewish Studies, and the Louis L. and Sybil S. Mervis Overseas Study Scholarship, they have served as members of the Jewish Studies Advisory Board for more than 30 years. The Mervises have galvanized other major donors to support the Jewish Studies overseas study scholarship campaign, resulting in 10 endowed scholarships.

Their commitment to IU has also benefitted the Verona String Quartet at the Jacobs School of Music, the Hematology/Oncology, Glaucoma Research and Education Fund, the Feigenbaum Professorship of Cardiology at the School of Medicine and the Hillel Center at IU. Sybil is a member of the Women's Philanthropy Council at Indiana University. The couple were recently awarded the IU Foundation's President's Medallion for their steadfast service and loyalty to IU.

View a video biography of Lou and Sybil Mervis.

About the Indiana University Foundation

Founded in 1936, the Indiana University Foundation maximizes private support for Indiana University by fostering lifelong relationships with key stakeholders and providing advancement leadership and fundraising services for campuses and units across the university. Today, the IU Foundation oversees one of the largest public university endowments in the country, with a market value in excess of $1.9 billion. In fiscal year 2014, IU received $341.3 million in support from the private sector. IU is consistently ranked among the top four of Big Ten universities in annual voluntary support.

The 2015 Partners in Philanthropy honorees are, from left, Mark Leonard, Katherine Lazerwitz, Sybil Mervis and Lou Mervis.

The 2015 Partners in Philanthropy honorees are, from left, Mark Leonard, Katherine Lazerwitz, Sybil Mervis and Lou Mervis.

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

Kathy Gutowsky