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BCC to award posthumous honorary degree to Mona Sherman

Mona Sherman smiling

Mona Sherman had initiated a lecture series in her role as president of BCC’s Berkshire Institute of Lifetime Learning, now the Osher Lifetime Learning Institute, shortly before her death in 2008. The series now is in its 15th year.

GREAT BARRINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin’s appearance on today marks the 15th anniversary of the Mona Sherman Memorial Lecture. Shortly before her untimely death on Oct. 15, 2008, Sherman had initiated a lecture series in her role as president of BCC’s Berkshire Institute of Lifetime Learning (BILL), founded in 1994.

In 2007, following a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco, BILL became the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at BCC.

OLLI has nearly 1,500 members and as an adult education institute hosts more than 100 in-person, online and hybrid programs a year, including five semesters of courses, lectures, special events and trips as well as shared interest groups.

At Saturday’s Mahaiwe event, BCC President Ellen Kennedy will bestow a posthumous honorary degree for Mona Sherman.

“The day my mom suddenly died, as a family, while still processing the traumatic news, we had a thought,” Sherman’s daughter Lisa Sharkey told The Eagle. “Let’s honor her memory with a speaker series in her name, to give back to the community she loved so dearly. We wanted to make sure the lecture was free of charge.”

Among the previous speakers in the series: MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski, historian Douglas Brinkley, commentator Mike Barnicle, author Joe Klein, journalist Katy Tur, Jim Acosta and Cokie Roberts.

“It’s amazing to see how many brilliant, influential and truly wonderful thought leaders have graced the stage,” Sharkey said. She’s a senior vice president at HarperCollins, among a handful of leading book publishers.

Mona Sherman was “an intellectual and a successful businesswoman in the fashion industry before setting her sights on making lifelong learning her priority as a devoted leader and volunteer at OLLI,” Sharkey added. “We wanted to give her something she always wanted but did not accomplish as a young woman, because she dropped out of Syracuse University at age 19 to get married. Before long, she was a young mother of three girls and never had that chance to get her college degree.”

Sharkey said that her mother “would have been truly proud, excited, and grateful for this honor and recognition from President Ellen Kennedy at BCC and Congressman Jamie Raskin.”

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.

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