Oxford, Ohio 45056
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Miami to Benefit from $6.5 Million Gift
A 1918 Miami University graduate who worked
as a head resident and freshman adviser at Miami after her husband's death has
left the university $6.5 million.
Although university officials were aware that Arretha Cornell Sheriff planned
to include Miami in her will, they were surprised to learn earlier this summer
that her gift is among the largest ones Miami has ever received.
It is particularly touching that the former staff member
desired no recognition for her generosity, said Miami President James C.
"She didn't want anything named for her and she put no conditions or
restrictions on how her gift should be used. Her desire was simply to give
something back to the institution she cherished," he said.
Income generated from the gift, in excess of $300,000 a year, will be set
aside to enhance intellectual life on campus, Garland announced Aug. 22 at
Departments and individual faculty members may apply on a competitive basis
for President's Academic Excellence Awards, to support "good ideas from the
faculty that strengthen the academic and intellectual climate of the
"Although Mrs. Sheriff desired no recognition, the fact is that she has
created an institution-changing gift and generations of Miami students and
faculty will remember her for that," Garland said.
The initiative would have pleased Mrs. Sheriff, he added, commenting that she
appreciated the dedication of faculty to their students.
"She believed in the university," said Georgina Silliman, professor emerita of
teacher education and friend.
After her husband, L.P. Sheriff, died in 1944, Mrs. Sheriff returned to
graduate school at Miami, earning a master's degree in school administration in
She worked at the university from 1945 until her retirement in 1962, serving
as a head resident and/or freshmen adviser at East Hall, Logan Lodge, Hamilton
Hall, Swing Hall and Bishop Hall.
One of her personal goals was to see that the students in the halls she lived
in and worked in left Miami with proper social skills and manners as well as a
good education, said Professor Silliman, explaining that Mrs. Sheriff found
university life fulfilling.
The former university staff member moved from Oxford to Dayton's Friendship
Village in 1974. She died June 24, 1995, at age 98.
The $6.5 million bequest is an example of the meaning of the word
"development," said Kenneth Burke, vice president for university relations. He
noted that university relations staff members, particularly Becki Reardon and
Karel Simbartl, maintained close contact with Mrs. Sheriff, often speaking
about her plans to help the university.
"She knew exactly what she wanted to do. She wanted to give the university the
maximum flexibility to best meet the needs of faculty and students," said
Simbartl, director of planned and major gifts at Miami. "It's a great tribute
from someone who knew this university well," Simbartl added.
The $6.5 million gift is the second major gift announced by Miami in two
weeks. A $1.9 million gift from the late Agnes Wagner McKie, widow of former
university trustee Stanley McKie, will be used for scholarships and loans.