GOSHEN — There’s a new name on Ivy Tech Community College’s South Bend-Elkhart campus: Mervin and Dorothy Lung Hall.
Faculty, staff and community leaders gathered Thursday morning to dedicate the building on C.R. 18 to Dorothy and her late husband Mervin Lung.
Two longtime entrepreneurs and philanthropists, the Lungs are known for their purchase and remodeling efforts on a building that led to Ivy Tech’s first presence in Elkhart County.
Mervin, who died in 2015, was the founder of Patrick Industries, one of the area’s largest manufacturers and suppliers to the RV industry.
Speakers at the ceremony included South Bend-Elkhart Chancellor David Balkin, Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann and Executive Director of Resource Development Sarah Rice.
Balkin said the Lungs were among the first to recognize the need for a strong post-secondary education facility in the Elkhart County area.
And for the last three decades, Balkin said, the two have quietly supported multiple generations of disadvantaged students with challenging backgrounds through their scholarship program. To date, the program has provided tuition to more than 10,000 students.
“Some of our Lung scholarship recipients are the proud parents of children who are also Lung scholarship recipients,” he said. “But above all, they’re appreciative neighbors who’ve been given a helping hand and a life-changing opportunity because of the passion of Dorothy and Mervin Lung who are helping our community.”
Rice shared how Mervin’s former remodeling and salvage business grew into Patrick Industries and how the success of the business enabled him and his wife to give back to the community.
Because there was no campus for higher education present in Elkhart, “in the late 1980s, Mervin and Dorothy purchased and remodeled a building so Ivy Tech could have a presence here,” Rice said.
Rice said that every Lung scholar is required to send a hand-written thank-you note to the couple in order to receive their scholarship.
“As Mervin struggled with his vision the last few years of his life, Dorothy remembers sitting by his side reading those letters to him and it would bring a great big smile to his face,” she said. “Not only does Dorothy continue to read the stacks of special notes, but she also organizes them by date and puts them in plastic sleeves and files them in binders. And now she’s got almost up to 10 full binders at home.”
Ellspermann lauded the Lungs’ entrepreneurship and continual support to the community that has had an impact on thousands of students.
Afterward, Ellsperman assisted Dorothy with pulling a blanket and unveiling a plaque officially dedicating the South Bend-Elkhart campus location to her and her late husband.
The ceremony concluded with Dorothy giving brief remarks expressing her thanks and gratitude for the honor.
“Thank you for this wonderful honor,” she told the crowd. “I know Mervin would be just as proud. He didn’t have an opportunity for higher education and wanted to provide that for others, and this was his chance.”