Sharp Museum dedicated in honor of $1M donation

Professor James Franklin Sharp attended SIU from 1954 to 1956

By Jeff Wilson

With a $1 million gift, Professor James Franklin Sharp has chiseled his name into SIU’s legacy. Now, the university has honored his generosity by renaming the University Museum as Sharp Museum.

On Friday, Oct. 20, the university unveiled the Sharp Museum naming and renamed the Southern Illinois Gallery as the Mrs. Rosanna Sharp Myers Southern Illinois Gallery, after Sharp’s sister.

“(Professor Sharp) is forever tied to the history of this institution,” Chancellor Austin Lane said. “How fitting to have something like this during Homecoming week.”

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.

“Professor Sharp was all in during his time at SIU,” said SIU System President Dan Mahony. “He took advantage of that experience, and when you do that, it becomes a life habit.”

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.

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, totaling more than $600,000.

Sharp Museum first opened as a natural history museum in 1874, and it has evolved into a teaching museum that represents the humanities, the sciences, and the arts. With roughly 70,000 objects in its care, the Sharp Museum captures and illuminates the human story, opening a window to who we are and where we came from.

“This museum is deep in my heart,” said Dean of Library Affairs John Pollitz. “It’s such an incredible resource for this whole area.”

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