Lou and Sybil Mervis String Quartet Fund
Louis Mervis, a native of Danville, Illinois, graduated from Indiana University in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business. As president of the Board of Aeons, a student advisory group that works with the university's president on campus issues, Mervis worked closely with then president, Herman B. Wells. His long career includes executive positions at Old National Bancorp., Danville Steel, Capitol City Metals, LLC, and Mervis Industries, Inc., an innovative recycling company that he founded.
Alongside his professional career, Mervis is highly involved in a number of community and civic causes. He served as general chairman of the United Way campaign in 1977, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, a member of the Illinois Human Relations Commission, chairman of the Zoning Commission and the Danville Planning Commission, Board of Director for Danville Little League, and as a founding member of the Danville Area Economic Development Corporation. His leadership in and commitment to his community earned him the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award in 1966, the "First Citizen Award" from the American Business Club in 1978, and Excellence in Leadership Award from Leadership Danville in 1988.
Sybil Mervis, a former teacher, is dedicated to helping young people reach their potentials. In her local community in Danville, Illinois, Mervis served on the Danville Public Library Board of Trustees since 1980 as president and vice president. As president, she led the effort to raise community funds to build a public library. She has started the Motivating Academically Talented Students Program for gifted students in Danville, and the couple sponsored a number of low-income minority students to attend prepatory schools. The Mervis Family Foundation also provided scholarships to Danville Area Community College students through an endowment.
Mervis served on the boards of the Danville Symphony Orchestra, Leadership Danville, the Vermilion County Museum, the American Cancer Society, the League of Women Voters, and the Cub Scouts. In 2002, Mervis received the Illinois Humanities Council's Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award for her continued commitment to education, libraries, and youth in Danville. Other awards for her commitment to her community include the Woman of Achievement Award from the Danville branch of the American Association of University Women, the ATHENA Award from Vermilion Advantage, and the Danville Woman of the Year award by the Business and Professional Women's Organization.
The Mervis' generosity stems from their religious practice to fulfill the Jewish principle of "tikkun olam," which means to heal the world. Their generosity continues to reach Indiana University and its educational efforts. The couple supports the Borns Jewish Studies Program at IU, the Lou and Sybil Mervis Chair in Jewish Cultural Studies, three scholarships for undergraduates in Jewish Studies, the Louis L. and Sybil S. Mervis Overseas Study Scholarship, and the Lou and Sybil Mervis String Quartet Fund.
The Lou and Sybil Mervis String Quartet Fund was established in order to develop the Chamber Music Program at the Jacobs School of Music, and to promote meaningful community engagement opportunities between the Jacobs School string quartet students and the music community in Danville, Illinois. Through this fund, a student string quartet ensemble, chosen by the Jacobs School's quartet-in-residence, Pacifica Quartet, has the opportunity to hold a residency in Danville to coach music students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as performing concerts for Danville residents. This effort has resulted in an increase in public school music class enrollment to almost double the average in the state of Illinois.
The Jacobs School of Music is honored to present the Lou and Sybil Mervis String Quartet Fund to undergraduate and graduate string quartet members to support travel expenses, stipends, and honorarium to hold a residency in Danville, Illinois.