Foundation News

Honoring a Legacy of Generosity

Major Gift is Tribute to Parents’ Life of Grace and Gratitude
University of Mississippi alumna Betsy Sherman Shelton of Covington, Louisiana, has made gifts to the university in honor of her mother, Merle Elizabeth “Betty” West Sherman (right) and father, Prescott Alden “Peck” Sherman of McComb, Mississippi, both UM graduates.
University of Mississippi alumna Betsy Sherman Shelton of Covington, Louisiana, has made gifts to the university in honor of her mother, Merle Elizabeth “Betty” West Sherman (right) and father, Prescott Alden “Peck” Sherman of McComb, Mississippi, both UM graduates.

A major gift to the Ole Miss Women’s Council (OMWC) will benefit young scholars while honoring the legacy of the late Prescott and Betty Sherman of McComb, Mississippi, both 1938 University of Mississippi graduates.

Betsy Sherman Shelton of Covington, Louisiana, recently made a $125,000 gift to establish the Betty West Sherman Ole Miss Women’s Council Leadership Scholarship Endowment. The endowment, given to commemorate the anniversary of her mother’s 100th birthday, also serves as a memorial to her life.

“When asked throughout the years what has meant the most to me, I have come to realize that it was my mother’s life as seen through my 21 years of experiencing it as her daughter and the impact it has had on my 43 years since she passed away,” said Shelton, a McComb native who graduated in 1977 from the UM School of Business Administration. “The journey of life as experienced through seeing the love of Christ lived out through my mother gave me the deepest desire for helping others find their way, which in turn brings forth a deep sense of contentment.”

The endowment will be combined with the Prescott Alden Sherman Leadership Council Scholarship Endowment, established by Shelton with a $100,000 gift in 2004 to honor her father and commemorate his retirement.

“My hope is to honor my parents’ legacy of valuing education and cultivating the ideas that God brought forth in their hearts that they so willingly shared with others,” she said. “May God deeply bless the recipients of the scholarship and help them find their way for Him.”

First preference will be given to students from Pike County, Mississippi, and may be received for a maximum of eight semesters, as long as the student maintains at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average.

OMWC scholarships are awarded to both male and female students based on academic achievement, leadership and a desire to give back to society through community service. Two OMWC staff mentors meet weekly with each scholarship recipient. In addition, scholars are paired with peer mentors during their freshman years and in sophomore years, career and life mentors. These individuals help guide the students in their future careers, enhance life skills and network with alumni. Scholars also participate in a series of leadership symposiums using the philosophy of servant leadership as the core curriculum.

Shelton said the OMWC’s philosophy aligns with her mother’s lifelong values: “My mother found true joy and personal fulfillment in sincerely loving others and in cultivating ideas to enrich the lives of others and then in working very hard to implement the ideas.”

Betty Sherman’s niece, Kim West of Seattle, Washington, agreed.

“My aunt Betty was a true southern lady, very dignified and full of grace. She had a sense of caring for others in a quiet, gentle way,” she said. “She was astute at discovering what others might need or want, what their struggles might be, and would find a way to help. She was very generous, and I would imagine way more generous than I was aware of. She did not want anyone to know that it was she who helped so many.”

Individuals and organizations may make gifts to either or both Sherman endowments by mailing a check with the designation noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655; visiting www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or contacting Barbara Daush, OMWC development officer, at 662-915-2881 or barbara@umfoundation.com.

“This transformative gift Betsy has given out of the goodness of her heart has truly impacted my life,” Daush said. “The love she has for her parents transcends every possible emotion, and the love her parents had for Ole Miss is almost immeasurable. This scholarship captures those connections and the deep devotion to the essence of what defines Ole Miss.”

Daush said she and Shelton shared an immediate connection, as two members of the Ole Miss family often do.

“It’s obvious that Betsy shares her mother’s desire to help others,” Daush said. “We greatly appreciate her generous gift, which is sure to have a transformative effect on the lives of our young scholars as they participate in this program through which their higher education experience will be enriched.”

In its 18th year, the OMWC has attracted more than $13.1 million for scholarships. The $32,000 OMWC scholarships – $8,000 annually for four years – are among the largest on campus. Thus far, 119 OMWC scholars have benefited from the program, which features mentoring, leadership development and cultural activities.

For more information on the OMWC and its awards, contact Nora Capwell, program coordinator, at 662-915-2384 or ncapwell@olemiss.edu. Information on the Women’s Council can also be found at http://www.omwc.olemiss.edu.

By Bill Dabney