Sheridan College to award two honorary degrees this Saturday

May 9, 2019

The Northern Wyoming Community College District Board of Trustees approved honorary degrees for Mary Ellen McWilliams and the late Sen. John C. Schiffer following the recommendation of President Dr. Paul Young. Both honorary degrees will be awarded this Saturday at the Sheridan College Commencement.

McWilliams will receive an Honorary Associate of Arts in History. A longtime Sheridan resident, she studied journalism and worked for several newspapers, including for The Sheridan Press as one of the first female advertising managers in the country. McWilliams was a founding member of the Fort Phil Kearny/Bozeman Trail Association and was featured on “The Bozeman Trail: A Rush to Montana’s Gold”, a documentary produced jointly by the Wyoming and Montana PBS stations. She has also served as a board member for several organizations in the area that advocate for education and children.

“Mary Ellen is a passionate and gifted historian,” said Young. “Her tireless efforts to shed light on the rich history of our area have resulted in significant contributions to our community, state and country.”

Sheridan College will present the documentary at Whitney Center for the Arts in Kinnison Hall on Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m., followed by a conversation with its writer/director Tom Manning.

Schiffer will receive an Honorary Associate of Science in Political Science, posthumously awarded. He served a 22-year political career in the Wyoming Senate, serving as Senate President in 2007 and 2008 in addition to several other leadership positions. He earned a degree in economics from Colorado College and received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Naval Bronze Star for his service in the U.S. Navy. Schiffer also served on the Johnson County School Board and the Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center Board. The John C. Schiffer Collaborative School in Sheridan was named in his honor.

“Sen. Schiffer was a tremendous leader and advocate for Wyoming’s youth,” said Young. “We are proud to celebrate his lasting legacy by awarding him this degree posthumously.”

Both degrees will be conferred during the Sheridan College Commencement Ceremony this Saturday, May 11 at 1 p.m. at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome.