A bear through and through

Sherrill named director of alumni and donor engagement

For Mary Ellen Sherrill ’10, ‘Once a Bear, Always a Bear’ is a slogan that guides her life as an alumna and as the newly named director of alumni and donor engagement.

Sherrill’s history with Lenoir-Rhyne goes back to growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina, and coming to campus with her mother, and building relationships with her classmates who became family.

Mary Ellen Sherrill

“My mom graduated from LR in 1977, so I grew up hearing about her time as a Bear and experiencing the long lasting bonds she formed with the women she went to school with,” shared Sherrill.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Sherrill taught fourth grade in Hickory at Snow Creek Elementary for nine years. In 2015, after joining the Lenoir-Rhyne Alumni Board, her interest in being a bigger part of the university community grew.

“LR becomes a home away from home for students. Even after graduating and moving into my teaching career, I still felt a calling to go home to LR, and a new dream of working at the university formed,” Sherrill said. “While on the board, I got to see the advances happening on campus, and being part of that story was important to me.”

In 2019, Sherrill left teaching and rejoined the LR campus community as assistant director for alumni engagement.

“There was obvious overlap between teaching and alumni engagement – helping others to see value, providing engagement opportunities, creating connections and meaning.”

In January 2024, Sherrill was promoted to director of alumni and donor engagement, where she will continue to foster alumni relationships and coordinate homecoming and reunions, but she will also work to show gratitude to donors and demonstrate the impact of their gifts.

“Without the support of friends and alumni, the university could not continue to make the advancements we do in programs, athletics, and the overall student experience. Telling their stories and the impact felt – it is important,” she shared. “I am excited for this new part of my role and continuing to work at a place that is not just a job – it is my dream.”

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