When Nancy Sheridan finally retired from Allegheny in 2009, she was 80 years old and had worked here for 42 years. She had tried to retire earlier, but the College kept finding projects that were perfectly suited to her — and only her. This longtime director of student support services and her late husband, Professor Emeritus Jim Sheridan ’50, developed deep friendships with students and faculty along the way, frequently hosting them in their Henry Street home for spirited conversation.
After arriving in 1964, the mother of three immersed herself in the extended Allegheny community and became involved with the Allegheny College Association (ACA), a group of so-called “faculty wives” who met for social and philanthropic pursuits. Nancy, a psychometrist, began working at the College in 1967. One of the first to be honored with Allegheny’s Robert T. Sherman Distinguished Service Award in 2000, Nancy is still engaged with the Allegheny and Meadville communities.
The ACA persuaded Allegheny administrators in 1972 to establish a scholarship program for non-traditional female students – women aged 25-plus who had graduated from high school but had not completed a college degree. They formed a subcommittee to raise funds to supplement the College’s contributions, recruit students, and provide empowering support for the women. A committee of staff, faculty and past recipients remains active today.
Scholarship recipients may take up to 12 credits per year (typically three courses) free of charge. They have the same access to College resources as traditional students, and they receive a stipend of $300 per course to spend how they see fit. Scholars may also receive support for a second or third year of study through additional donor funds. A few women have gone on to earn undergraduate degrees. Nearly 150 ACA scholars have joined the Allegheny community over the decades, and Nancy has cheered each one of them along. The scholarship was renamed in her honor in 2012.
Nancy’s work with the ACA complemented her decades-long and continuing involvement on the board of directors of Women’s Services, Inc., a local nonprofit organization that provides supportive counseling, advocacy, and emergency housing and services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crises.
Nancy and a similarly engaged colleague, Linda Allison Palmiero ’66, P’92, worked together for many years at Allegheny. When Linda and a group of her friends who’d met 50-plus years ago in Brooks Hall — they call themselves the Gator Gals of 1966 — gathered last November to celebrate their 75th birthdays, Jeanne Whitney Smith proposed that they each donate $75 to honor Allegheny College and to celebrate the induction of Dr. Hilary Link as its first woman president. The women readily agreed and were thrilled when Linda told them about the Nancy Sheridan ACA Scholarship. Says Smith, “The Nancy Sheridan Scholarship was chosen for its focus on the Allegheny experience of changing lives.” Linda presented Nancy and Allegheny College with a collective gift for the scholarship from the 30 friends in December.
It is no surprise that Nancy, whose adult life has been and remains shaped by Allegheny, once said, “Frankly, I think education is one of the most important parts of people’s lives.” In addition to supporting the scholarship, Nancy and friends also established the James F. Sheridan, Jr. Memorial Fund to provide support for students and faculty in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Allegheny. This golden-aged friend of the College is a true-blue Alleghenian.