With a $1 million gift, Professor James Franklin Sharp has chiseled his name into SIU’s legacy. Now, the university will honor his generosity by renaming the University Museum as Sharp Museum.
At 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, the university will host a ceremony in front of the museum to unveil the name and honor Professor Sharp, who will be in attendance along with friends and family. Chancellor Austin Lane will give remarks at 4 p.m.
“Professor Sharp’s incredible giving spirit inspires us all,” said John Pollitz, dean of Library Affairs, which oversees the museum. “This gift will make a profound impact on both educational and cultural opportunities for our students, faculty, and the region.”
Professor Sharp attended SIU from 1954 to 1956, but the university didn’t offer a four-year degree in engineering at that time. Still, he said he always felt a strong connection to the university.
While an SIU student, he played seven intramural sports, including football, corkball, basketball, volleyball, softball, badminton, and horseshoes. He was a member of the Theta Xi fraternity.
“I lived in Doyle Dorm with three roommates, whom I have stayed in touch with over all these years,” Professor Sharp said. “Corkball was my favorite sport, and the Theta Xi Variety Show was a big deal in those days. At the time, I could have never imagined I’d even have $1 million, period.”
He transferred to the University of Illinois from SIU and completed his undergraduate degree in industrial engineering. He later earned a master’s and Ph.D. from Purdue University.
“I guess I would say I enjoyed my time at SIU more than the other colleges I attended,” Professor Sharp said. “At SIU, the classes were small and taught by senior professors. I enjoyed watching SIU football and basketball games. They were always very crowded.”
Professor Sharp taught at three universities: Rutgers University, New York University Stern Graduate School of Business, and Pace University Lubin Graduate School of Business. He also held management positions at AT&T and founded Sharp Seminars in New York, which became a leading provider of training for Wall Street investment analysts and investment portfolio managers.
He has also written 36 books and had many articles published. He has achieved the following professional designations: CFA, CIPM, CMA, CFM, and Mensa.
A Chester High School graduate, Professor Sharp has made supporting education a lifelong endeavor. He has made multiple donations to Chester schools, adding up to more than $600,000.
“After making gifts to other institutions, I realized the kind of impact I was able to make. During one of my trips back to SIU, I visited the museum and thought it could use some funding,” Professor Sharp said. “So, I thought why not go big and make it $1 million.”