Otterbein was the starting point for the richly textured life that Carolyn and Richard (Dick) Sherrick have built together over the past 60-plus years, although Carolyn has to chuckle about the inauspicious way the couple first met.
“It was over a steam table at lunch,” she says, recalling that she was working on the college’s cafeteria line as Dick picked up an entrée.
Dick soon joined her on the food-service staff, and two worked side by side for the rest of their undergraduate years at Otterbein. That included Sunday afternoons when they were in charge of the cafeteria.
Juggling those jobs with their classes, Carolyn and Dick worked their way through Otterbein. Carolyn – her maiden name was Brown – earned a B.S. degree in mathematics and B.A. in history in 1953. Dick, a math major, graduated a year later.
The two married after graduation and went on to enjoy long and successful careers – Dick at IBM and Carolyn as a certified public accountant – while raising their three children, Dana, Beth and Rick.
Along the way, the Sherricks have never forgotten the valuable lessons they learned at Otterbein. To show their appreciation, they have been steadfast supporters of the University, both with their time and money. Their most recent expression of generosity for their alma mater is a $100,000 commitment to the “Where We Stand Matters” campaign, the ambitious fundraising effort that puts students first.
Half of the gift will be used to establish the “Richard and Carolyn Sherrick Endowed Scholarship” for a student majoring in business or math. The other $50,000 will create the “Richard and Carolyn Sherrick Five Cardinal Experiences Fund” in support of the Otterbein experiential learning program that engages students in real-world opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired in the classroom.
“Otterbein gave us a great deal personally and the direction for where our lives have gone,” Carolyn says. “We feel it’s important for us to make this commitment.”
Adds Dick: “Having a background of math and working our way through college gave us the discipline and education to get things moving forward. We want to help others succeed as they leave Otterbein for a lifetime of work.”
The Sherricks are hopeful that some of the proceeds from the Five Cardinal Experiences Fund will support travel by Otterbein students. They have visited nearly 80 countries and firmly believe there is much to learn from people in other cultures.
“You get quite a different perspective of countries when you have a chance to meet, talk and walk with the people there,” Dick says, happily recalling some of the experiences he and Carolyn had when spending time with families in places as different as China, Turkey and South Africa.
“There is a lot to be learned outside the classroom,” Carolyn adds, then fondly recalling the time a Chinese farm wife showed her how to make noodles. “She decided I was too slow at it.”
The Sherricks have had plenty of time to travel since retiring to Greensboro, N.C., in 1998 after spending most of their working lives in the Bethesda, Md., area. Dick served two years in the military, and then worked in the computer field for 40 years, mostly with IBM Federal Systems. Carolyn was a teacher for four years, took time off to raise their children and then launched a second career as a CPA that lasted 30 years.
The couple has remained involved with Otterbein over the years, serving in leadership positions with the alumni chapter in the Washington, D.C. area and providing financial support. In recognition of their giving, the food-service area in Roush Hall bears their name as does an international studies room in Towers Hall.
The Sherricks continue to make it back to campus and say they like what they hear about the University’s direction. That’s especially the case with Otterbein’s intentional blending of the liberal arts and professional studies.
“A lot of places don’t do that,” Dick says. “At Otterbein, there’s an emphasis on work opportunities in internships and getting into the work force instead of just handing (students) a diploma and saying, ‘Good luck.’”
The couple is also convinced that Otterbein’s alumni and friends should step forward to support the Where We Stand Matters campaign.
“Dick and I like to say that Otterbein has done a lot to make us what we are,” Carolyn says. “We think others at Otterbein feel the same way and we all need to pass it forward to the next generation.”
“Those who have received have an obligation to give,” Dick adds.