Professor Sharp’s $1M Donation, Five-Day Celebration

Professor James Franklin Sharp headshot
Professor James Franklin Sharp

Editor’s note: recap provided by Professor Sharp and his team.


James Franklin Sharp grew up in Chester Illinois, and now lives and works in New York City.

He was a 1954 graduate of Chester High School and then completed in 1956 the two-year Pre-Engineering Program at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (before SIU had a four-year Engineering Program). He had a great time at SIU. He lived in Doyle Dorm, which was in the back of the Baptist Foundation Building. Doyle Dorm was conveniently located near the compact SIU campus at that time when SIU only had about 4,000 students. He liked the small class sizes and had mainly senior professors, including the Head of Mathematics, Head of Physics, and Head of Economics. He participated in 7 intramural sports: football, corkball, volleyball, basketball, softball, badminton, and horseshoes for Doyle Dorm. He enjoyed being a member of Theta Xi Fraternity, which hosted the very popular annual Theta Xi Variety Show.

Professor Sharp is pleased to be able to give back to SIU with a $1,000,000 donation and is grateful to have the SHARP MUSEUM named after him. He returned to SIU 2023 Homecoming Week from Wednesday, October 18 to Sunday, October 22 for five days of special events celebrating the dedication of the SHARP MUSEUM.

Day 1. Wednesday

Melissa, Professor, Linda on AA Flight NY to St. Louis
Melissa Marks, Professor Sharp, Linda Li on American Airlines Flight from New York to St. Louis.

Wednesday Professor Sharp took an American Airlines flight from New York to St. Louis Air­port. He was accompanied by his Business Manager, Melissa Marks, and Assistant, Linda Li. At the St. Louis Airport, they were picked up by SIU Dean of Library Affairs (including SHARP MUSEUM) John Pollitz, and his Direc­tor of Development, Kevin Clark.

There was a 2-hour drive in an SIU van to the Hilton Suites Hotel in Carbondale, Illinois. They ordered takeout food and had a small wel­come dinner in the lobby of the hotel. They were soon joined by Professor Sharp’s sister, Rosanna Sharp Myers, and her daughter, Stephanie Myers Smith, who drove down from the St. Louis Airport, after a flight from Atlanta.

Day 2. Thursday Morning

In Front of SHARP MUSEUM, Melissa,Professor, Rosanna, Stephanie, Linda
In Front of SHARP MUSEUM, Melissa,
Professor, Rosanna, Stephanie, Linda

Thursday morning Professor Sharp, Melissa, Linda, Rosanna, and Stephanie toured the SHARP MUSEUM.

Plaques for Professor James Franklin Sharp, and Rosanna Sharp Myers, are being installed inside the SHARP MUSEUM.

SHARP MUSEUM has a Fine and Decorative Arts Collection, with more than 4,000 items. That includes regional historical and contempo­rary ethnic and folk art.

Professor James Franklin Sharp Plaque

SHARP MUSEUM has a Science Collection that includes more than 26,000 geological specimens and a collection of early 20th-century medical and dental items.

SHARP MUSEUM has a Humanities Collection with more than 22,000 items, including a historic collection of Southern Illinois and general American history. The Rosanna Sharp Myers Southern Illinois Gallery is named after Professor Sharp’s sister. One large painting shows Lincoln & Douglas at their debate in Jonesboro, Illinois.

Rosanna Sharp Myers Plaque

After touring the SHARP MUSEUM, the Sharp Group looked at some of the nearby SIU Campus. Professor Sharp liked to see the old Doyle Dorm, where he lived at SIU, which is next to the SHARP MUSEUM. They all admired the Three Salukis Statue, across the street from the old Doyle Dorm, with the popular SIU symbol, Pulliam Hall, in the background.

Rosanna and Stephanie went inside nearby Woody Hall, where Rosanna first lived at SIU. Then Kevin Clark drove the group to see the Buckminster Fuller Dome House.

The group had Quarto’s famous deep-pan pizza for lunch.

Three Salukis Statue with Melissa & Linda

Day 2. Thursday Evening

Thursday evening there was a SIU Foundation Board Dinner, that honored Professor Sharp. SIU Marching Band, SIU Cheerleaders, and SIU Saluki Dog Mascot participated. Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation, was the moderator. Matt, SIU President Daniel Mahony, and SIU Chancellor Austin Lane made remarks praising Professor Sharp.

Matt Kupec, SIU Foundation CEO
SIU Saluki Dog Mascot, Foundation Dinner

Day 3. Friday

Sharp Group had Brunch at the famous Mary Lou’s Grill, including having their very popular Biscuits & Gravy.

Standing Room Only At Dedication

The dedication Ceremony for the SHARP MUSEUM was Friday afternoon. There was a larger-than-expected attendance at the Dedication Ceremony, with a large standing-room-only number of people.

SIU Dean John Pollitz At Dedication

Dean John Pollitz was the moderator and made remarks praising Professor Sharp. SIU President Daniel Mahony and SIU Chancellor Austin Lane also made remarks praising Professor Sharp.

SIU Chancellor Austin Lane At Dedication
SIU System President Daniel Mahony At Dedication

Professor Sharp thanked Dean Pollitz, President Mahony, and Chancellor Lane. He then recognized the SHARP MUSEUM Curators: Wes Stoerger and Susannah Munson. Also, Chester High School Superintendent Mrs. Kimberly Briggs, Chester High School Principal Jeremy Blechle, former Doyle Dorm Roommate Roger Chitty, and Theta Xi Alumni who were present, were recognized.

Professor Sharp At Dedication

Friday evening there was a Dedication Dinner at the well-known Giant City Lodge Restaurant. Dean Pollitz again was the moderator. At the Dedication Dinner, Alumni of Beta Delta Chapter of Theta Xi Fraternity at SIU, represented by Scott Shelton, Julian Pei, and Scott Nordentoff honored Professor Sharp with a Plaque stating “In Recognition of Outstanding Service and Dedication.”

Theta Xi Plaques At Dedication Dinner

Also, Shawn Monsen, Theta Xi Fraternity Na­tional Director of Alumni Engagement traveled from Theta Xi Headquarters in Atlanta to honor Professor Sharp. He presented him with a Theta Xi Founders Circle Award Plaque and Rosette Lapel Pin.

Day 4. Saturday

Professor Sharp In SIU Homecoming Parade

SIU Homecoming Parade was on Saturday morning. Professor Sharp was an Honoree, riding in a classic BMD red convertible. Rosanna Sharp Myers also was in a red convertible, accompa­nied by her daughter Stephanie Myers Smith.

Rosanna In SIU Homecoming Parade

SIU Homecoming Football Game was Saturday afternoon in Saluki Stadium. There was a fly­over by a U.S. Air Force Plane just before the kickoff. Sharp Group was invited to watch the game from a luxury suite in Saluki Stadium. They had a great buffet lunch before and during the game. There was an excellent view of the football game and the halftime show by the SIU Marching Band.

In the Foundation’s Suite For SIU Homecoming Football Game
View of SIU Marching Band at Homecoming Football Game

Saturday evening there was a Farewell Dinner at the 20’s Hideout Steakhouse in Marion.

Day 5. Sunday

Sharp House in Chester

Sunday morning Rosanna and Stephanie drove their rental car back to the St. Louis airport to catch their flight back to Atlanta.

Dean John Pollitz and Kevin Clark drove Professor Sharp, Melissa, and Linda back to the St. Louis airport to catch their flight back to New York. They took Route 3 through Chester. They drove by the Sharp Home in Chester, where Professor Sharp and Rosanna grew up. They also stopped at Chester High School, where they sat on the Professor Sharp Bench, in front of the entrances to the Sharp Cafeteria, which also led to the Sharp Library & Media Center.

CHS Professor Sharp Bench

Salukis recognized for takeover of Springfield

SIU honored at the State Capitol

SPRINGFIELD – Southern Illinois University Carbondale leaders are raising the university’s visibility and nurturing relationships with alumni, state officials, local schools, and others during this week’s Saluki Takeover Tour in Springfield.

This was the inaugural stop in Illinois’ capital for the Saluki Takeover Tour, which has made previous stops in Chicago, St. Louis, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee. The takeover tour will revisit these areas over the next few months and add new locations, including a takeover of Southern Illinois.

The capstone event of each takeover tour is the Chancellor’s Reception. With nearly 200 Salukis in attendance, the excitement was palpable. Guests also had the opportunity to view the Jerome M. Mileur Presidential Campaign Memorabilia Collection.

“There’s something special about Springfield. When get here and run into all our alums, state reps, and senators, that’s what’s unique,” said Chancellor Austin Lane. “We need your support. We need to you be engaged. We need you to be proud of the work that is occurring.”

Capitol recognition

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, Illinois State Rep. Will Davis, ’89, announced the Salukis in Springfield on the House Floor in the Illinois State Capitol and read excerpts of the House resolution to honor SIU Carbondale. Rep. Patrick Windhorst, ’00, School of Law, also welcomed SIU leaders.

“Bright days are ahead, and it’s a bright future based on your leadership,” Windhorst said.

A House resolution on Wednesday honored the SIU School of Law in celebration of its 50th anniversary this year.

“We welcome them here to Springfield for their takeover event here, and you’ll start to see these takeover events in more communities around the state,” Davis said.

Exciting interactions

Also on Tuesday, Chancellor Lane was interviewed by WTAX News Radio and NPR Illinois in Springfield.

Chancellor Lane and university leaders explored Stellar Aviation. During the visit, the SIU Foundation received a $50,000 gift from Dr. Susan Shea ’86, who is the director of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics. The funds will endow a scholarship for SIU Aviation students.

“I’m very grateful to Southern Illinois University for giving me the opportunity, and I want to say thank you back for the wonderful education I got there,” she said during the Chancellor’s Reception.

Sheryl Tucker, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Robert Morgan, dean of the College for Health and Human Sciences, and Linda Baker, a professor with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, engaged with the Illinois Department of Human Services – Funeral and Burial Benefits.

Additionally, SIU System First Lady Laura Mahony hosted the leadership from the Conference of Women in Legislators at the SIU System president’s home, discussing strategies to increase membership and fund scholarships for women resuming their education. The day concluded with a dinner alongside SIU School of Medicine members at Panther Creek Country Club.

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, leaders from the Office of Innovation and Economic Development and the SIU Foundation exchanged creative ideas for the future of the Southern Illinois region with the Director of the Department of Agriculture Jerry Costello II. Costello ’97 is a proud Saluki and graduate of the School of Education.

During the takeover tour, university leadership visited administrators and counselors at Springfield Lamphier High School, Springfield East High School, Springfield High School, Lincoln Land Community College, and Sacred Heart Griffin (Cavalry).

On Thursday morning, dozens gathered for the WSIU Friends Breakfast at Harvest Market. Attendees connected with WSIU Friends and staff for a complimentary buffet.

For more information about upcoming Saluki Takeover Tours, follow the SIU Foundation on social media or visit

Newly designed Saluki license plates now widely available

by Kim Rendfeld

CARBONDALE, Ill. – New collegiate Southern Illinois University Carbondale license plates sporting a new look – the Saluki athletic logo with the beloved dog head – are now widely available.

Any Illinois driver can order random-number, vanity or personalized plates by visiting the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State’s website. (Previously this year, only people who already had SIU Carbondale plates were getting the newly designed ones as replacements.) A portion of the proceeds benefit undergraduate scholarships.

Chancellor Austin Lane said the newly designed plates fit well with the university’s strategic plan, Imagine 2030, and its branding and partnerships pillar.

“This is a very exciting time for Saluki Nation,” Lane said. “These new license plates are a way for the Saluki family to show their pride, make SIU Carbondale more visible and support our students. We are grateful to the SIU Foundation for making this possible and to everyone who buys a Saluki plate.”

Lane also thanked Matt Baughman, chief of staff, and John Charles, the SIU System’s executive director of government and public affairs, for their efforts.

“The SIU Foundation is proud to help bring the new Saluki license plates to Illinois drivers,” said Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation. ”It’s an exciting venture, and we look forward to seeing more Saluki spirit out on the road.”