The Gerald I. Lamkin Center

Welcome to the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center

It Started With An Idea….“Where Dreams Take Flight”

Chancellor Dr. Thomas G. Coley, delighted in hearing the history of the Lamkin Center.

From that vision came the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center -- a place "where dreams take flight" and a source of inspiration to students, staff, faculty, and alumni of Ivy Tech Community College Northwest and all of Northwest Indiana.

After President Emeritus Lamkin announced his retirement, the center was renamed the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center.   The Center is the region’s innovation and entrepreneurship gateway to lifelong innovators, lifelong learners and lifelong leaders.  In our efforts to inspire innovation and creativity, we discover, encourage, honor and celebrate  individual and team innovators.

For example, our highest award for team innovation is the Chanute Prize for Team Innovation. We recognize Octave Chanute for his 19th Century experiments on the Indiana Dunes that helped launched the success of the Wright Brothers on the Carolina coast. 

Our Staff

O’Merrial Butchee, the Director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, has worked with innovative clients like Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company, Inc. and McDonalds Corporation where she experienced their best practices and innovative works. She has served in her current role in 2006 and has been an adjunct instructor for the past 16 years at Ivy Tech Northwest.

John Davies, the Assistant Director, is former Vice President of Marketing with the Northwest Indiana Forum, and has held marketing and communications positions in the agricultural equipment, cotton, health care, and economic development fields. He was a former reporter with the City News Bureau of Chicago, Scripps-Howard, and The Chicago Tribune. He joined the department in 2005 as a part-time employee and became full-time in 2011.

Lynnette Fulton-Driver is administrative assistant to the Director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center. She joined the department in 2005 and became a full-time employee in 2008.

What We Do

Our goal at the center is two-fold: 1) to provide learning through the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute which has various components; and 2) to celebrate and stimulate innovators to inspire innovation across the generations through The Society of Innovators.

Change is inevitable and we like to think that we take a proactive approach in advocating change for the betterment of our school and community. To accomplish this, the center offers a number of programs.

Listed below are various projects sponsored through the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center:

Imagine If

Imagine If… is a college sponsored event for junior high school students that engages them in experiencing different jobs and careers.

What’s Your Idea?

The “What’s Your Idea?…” campaign is open to all Ivy Tech Community College students, faculty, administrators and alumni to take an active part in the growth and development of the college. All parties are invited each semester to submit their idea(s) for improving, adding or changing something about processes, procedures or environmental improvements through our website. 

The most innovative and practical idea is selected from each campus and the winner is presented a $50 award at the annual Chancellor’s Awards Breakfast.

The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana

“How to make a Nomination”

The Society of Innovators is an initiative to celebrate and promote innovation and innovators in Northwest Indiana sponsored by the college and various partners.  We recognize many innovators each year and from the nominees, six innovators are selected as Fellows. 

Each year, nominations are accepted online during an eight-week period for individuals and teams doing innovative things across the 7 counties of  Northwest Indiana. Nominations are accepted from Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke Counties. For details about how to make an individual and/or team nomination, please visit for details.

The Chanute Prize, a team award, is presented to an outstanding team that demonstrates innovation through collaboration.  This award is jointly sponsored by The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana and the law firm of Krieg DeVault.  Richard Sussman, Ph.D., former General Manager, ArcelorMittal R&D Global Center, East Chicago, is Chair of The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana. John Davies, Assistant Director, Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, also serves as Managing Director, The Society of Innovators of  Northwest Indiana.

The Innovators’ Café

This event is a workplace initiative to educate regional executive leaders about innovative best practices and provide a forum for the community to have an inside look at those practices. A total of 20 Cafes  have been held at various worksites since 2006.

The I &E Chats

These Chats (Innovation and Entrepreneurship Chats) are a series of gatherings with students in the classroom in which innovators and entrepreneurs share their real-life experiences about risk and reward in the marketplace.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute

Richard Barnes, Ph.D. & Co-Owner, Hokey Spokes International

Our honorary Chair of our Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute is Richard Barnes, Ph.D.  He is co-owner with his wife Carole of Hokey Spokes, an international company that produces an innovative safety light device for bicycles. He exemplifies what can be accomplished with an idea and how an entrepreneur can take an idea to the marketplace to benefit society.  Dr. Barnes volunteers his time and services and brings a “roll-up-the-sleeves” approach to making things happen.

Part of our responsibility is to prepare our students and community for a global marketplace and wired workplace. The following is a partial list of our special projects to achieve this responsibility:

• The EV Conversion Project

• The Conversion of a Gas-powered Vehicle to an Electrical Vehicle

• Processing Bio-diesel Fuel and Creation of a Bio-diesel Station

• 21st Century Scholar Mentoring Program, sponsored by The Lumina Foundation

• High School Athletes in Progress, created by the Center’s Staff and sponsored by The Legacy Foundation, Inc.

As part of a global region we understand the power of partnerships. Some of our partners are listed below:

• ArcelorMittal Steel

• Purdue Technology Center

• The Legacy Foundation, Inc

• BP Whiting Refinery

• Purdue University Calumet

• The Lumina Foundation, Inc.

• Calumet College of St. Joseph

• St. Margaret Mercy, The Sisters of St. Francis Health Services, Inc.

• The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (South Shore Line)

• Family Express Corporation

• Task Force Tips

• The Times

• Hokey Spokes

• The Center of Workforce Innovations

• Valparaiso University

• Indiana University Northwest

• The Knight Foundation


The Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center is to become the gateway for creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs to encourage lifelong learning, lifelong innovation, and lifelong leadership.


The Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center encourages, inspires and motivates students and the community to dream about the possibilities and invest in learning, knowledge, and skills to improve their lives, families and region.