/* */ <img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1706078429670727&ev=PageView &noscript=1"/> /* */

Foundational Briggs staff member, Mary Sheridan, remembered by Lyman Briggs community

June 28, 2021 - LBC Communications

Lyman Briggs College is saddened by the passing of one of its longest-serving and beloved former staff members, Mary Sheridan, who died January 17, 2021.

Mary Sheridan assists someone in the LBC officeMary Sheridan began working at Michigan State University in 1960. In the mid-sixties, she became secretary to the chairman of the University planning committee in charge of founding Lyman Briggs College, F.B. Dutton. Dutton later became the first dean of Lyman Briggs College in 1967, and asked Mary to join him in the venture of starting the college.

Mary worked for decades in Lyman Briggs as the dean’s secretary, and was known for her connection to students and helping to create a very supportive environment for faculty and students. Michael J. Harrison, the second dean of Lyman Briggs College (1973-87), wrote in an alumni newsletter in 1980, “Mrs. Mary Sheridan continues her fantastic efforts to keep the College on an even course with smooth sailing.”
Throughout her time in Briggs, Mary was involved with the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, a six-week intensive summer program focused on writer development in science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories. The workshop was founded in 1968 in Pennsylvania, and hosted by Michigan State University until 2006.

Biology faculty member Howard Hagerman and Mary Sheridan in the officeIn the 1990s, Mary served as an administrative liaison with the Lyman Briggs alumni, and even volunteered her time organizing historical documents. She retired in 2004, after serving the university for 44 years.

Dr. Steven Spees, faculty member and acting director of LBS, 2002-3, wrote about Mary upon her retirement: “LBS has a long and distinguished tradition of excellence and Mary has been an integral part of that tradition. How many of you remember Mary launching a hot air balloon with a Briggs banner to fly over the football stadium (1981) to urge the crowd there to support us? It is important for us to recognize her many contributions to Lyman Briggs.”

Dr. Ed Ingraham, director of Lyman Briggs School, 1987-98, writes, “For all the years I knew and worked with Mary, she was a fierce and feisty advocate for Briggs.”

Jane Smith Elliott, Mary Sheridan, Phyllis StokerEarlier this year, Tess Tavormina reflected on the deep friendship and helpful support Mary provided. “With losing Mary, we've lost an angel in our lives. I first met her when I was a freshman at MSU in 1969, and have counted her as a friend ever since then. She was always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone—students (whose names she remembered forever), work colleagues (who could rely on her to find anything they needed in files from however far back), fellow Legion members, friends suffering losses or illness or celebrating life events and just plain fellowship over a drink or a meal.”

Dr. Mimi Sayed, former Briggs biology faculty member, sums it up well: “Mary’s outstanding contributions have profoundly enriched the Briggs community and all its members.”

We are grateful for the example of kindness and care that Mary was for all the members of the Briggs community. A celebration of her life will take place at a later date, when it is safer to gather.

Image captions, from top: Mary Sheridan in the LBC office in the late 60's or early 70's; LBC Biology's Dr. Howard Hagerman with Mary Sheridan; Dr. Jane Smith Elliott, Mary Sheridan and Phyllis Stoker