New endowment honors former long-time architectural engineering staffer

Curtis Chan
October 07, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A long-time architectural engineering staff member is being honored with a new endowment in her name.

The Sharron E. Williams Memorial Award in Architectural Engineering honors staff assistant Sharron Williams. She worked for the department for 34 years before dying from cancer in 2007.

Architectural engineering alumnus Jonathan Dougherty helped to spearhead the initiative to establish the award. Dougherty said students often turned to Williams for her expertise with student records and academic procedures.

"Sharron had a tremendous impact on the students in architectural engineering," Dougherty said. "If your academic adviser didn’t have the answer, they'd send you to Sharron."

For the Philipsburg native's efforts, the department's Class of 1999 established an informal award in 2004 to honor her.

But the desire to create something more permanent after her death led to the new endowment.

"Sharron is so fondly remembered by the alumni, faculty and staff in architectural engineering for everything she did," said Chimay Anumba, head of architectural engineering. "Having a formal award for Sharron is something we all felt very strongly about."

Dougherty, who now works as director of James G. Davis Construction's Corporate Knowledge Center, said, "It's the impact she had on architectural engineering students over nearly 35 years. We wanted to memorialize her."

Dougherty serves as president of the Penn State Alumni Society of Architectural Engineering and a board member of the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society.

An initial amount of $20,000 is required to create the award, and Dougherty has been among the people leading the fundraising effort. To contribute to the Sharron Williams award, go to and select the give online option. Under the "Gift Information" section, select "Other" and enter "Sharron Williams Award." Checks made payable to Penn State also may be sent to the Department of Architectural Engineering, 104 Engineering Unit A, University Park, PA 16802 with "Sharron Williams Award" in the memo line.

Dougherty said the award will continue Williams's legacy of helping students.

"It's to provide support for someone who has outstanding student leadership," he said.

The Sharron E. Williams Memorial Award in Architectural Engineering will help Penn State reach its goals in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This initiative is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

  • Sharron Williams head shot

    A new award honors the legacy of Sharron Williams, a staff assistant in the Department of Architectural Engineering who worked at Penn State for more than three decades until her death in 2007.

    IMAGE: Department of Architectural Engineering
Last Updated October 08, 2013