$2 million gift will endow leadership of Cormier Honors College

A $2 million gift from Marc andWilma Register Sharp ’66 will nurture citizen leaders and support the work of the Cormier Honors College.

A $2 million gift from Marc andWilma Register Sharp ’66 will nurture citizen leaders and support the work of the Cormier Honors College. Image: Corey Miller

As Marc and Wilma Register Sharp ’66 have worked tirelessly to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, Longwood’s mission of nurturing citizen leaders in a residential setting has always struck a deep chord with the Williamsburg couple.

The Sharps met on Longwood’s campus 50 years ago after Marc rode down from the University of Virginia on the back of his roommate’s motorcycle. As the parents of five children—including Jennie Sharp Davidson 98—the couple developed an especially deep connection over the years to a spot on campus where the university’s mission is displayed with particular focus: the tight-knit learning community of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars.

Now the Sharps have underscored that connection and their commitment to Longwood’s residential college experience with a $2 million gift that will endow the deanship of the Cormier Honors College and support its work. In recognition of their contribution, two residence halls currently under construction will be named in the couple’s honor. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2016, Sharp Hall and Register Hall will house about 100 students each.

“Our daughter found an unbelievably welcoming and supportive atmosphere at Longwood where she could grow and thrive in a way that wouldn’t have happened at other schools,” said Wilma Register Sharp. “She found true backing among the faculty and in [former president] Dr. Patricia Cormier, who helped her see possibilities in her own life. That’s a story that’s repeated time and time again at Longwood and is truly the hallmark of a great institution.”

Calling the Sharps “extraordinary champions of Longwood and the Honors College,” President W. Taylor Reveley IV described their gift as “genuinely transformative for the Honors College and for its students, securing its strong leadership and helping the college’s distinctive academic program grow even stronger.”

Honors students mostly live together in a learning-enriched environment in Wheeler Hall. They enjoy small classes, close interaction with faculty members and opportunities for independent studies. All honors students also complete a study abroad program. Wilma Register Sharp graduated from Longwood in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science in education. She also holds a Master of Arts degree in education from William & Mary and was a teacher for many years, working with gifted children. Marc Sharp, retired president of Greensprings Plantation Inc., part of the Bush Companies, attended the University of Virginia, where he took a hiatus to serve in the U.S. Army. After returning to U.Va., he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in commerce and a Master of Science degree in accounting.

Marc Sharp said the Honors College exemplifies Longwood’s commitment to ensuring that students explore a variety of academic subjects, a philosophy central to the liberal arts experience he has valued so deeply in his own life.

“Longwood is a perfect size for a lot of students—it is a community in every sense of the word,” he said, adding that the resulting campus atmosphere supports academic exploration and “holds [students] to the principles of citizen leadership—preparing them for life with a very firm foundation.”

—Matthew McWilliams