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College of Business Statement on the Passing of Bill Sheriff

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Bill Sheriff (Class of 1965), retired CEO of Brookdale Senior Living in Nashville, TN, and a generous benefactor of the University. He and his wife Sharon gave a number of gifts to NMSU, including two business scholarships, and an entrepreneurial internship endowment with the NMSU Arrowhead Center. Bill served as a NMSU Foundation Board Member from 2011-2017, and received the College of Business Traders Award in 2016.

In 2013, Bill and his wife Sharon worked with the College of Business to endow a faculty Entrepreneurship Chair, a role whose purpose was “to provide leadership and expertise in cultivating a spirit of entrepreneurship in New Mexico and developing resources that will advance that goal in the state and region.” Since then, the holders of that Chair have taken that vision to heart.

According to Dr. Ebetuel Pallares-Venegas, the current holder of the Bill and Sharon Sheriff Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship:

“As an alumnus of NMSU, Bill Sheriff knew firsthand what a good education and a supportive environment could do for budding entrepreneurs. Bill supported all things entrepreneurship at NMSU. He endowed the Bill and Sharon Sheriff Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship, which I've been privileged to hold. He cared about how many students were exposed to entrepreneurship via classes and about the types of ideas they sought to support, often sending encouraging messages when I shared student project videos with him. He also invested in the Arrowhead Innovation Fund, which in turn invests in New Mexico tech businesses. Bill's generosity and vision for a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Mexico laid the foundation for scores of students and alumni to thrive in the State. Bill was a giving, kind and modest leader, Bill was an NMSU Aggie”

Back in 2013, Bill remarked that “[T]he world continues to change at a faster and faster pace. We have to prepare people to deal with that successfully. I believe strongly in the free enterprise system and the entrepreneurial aspect is an important part of that.” The subsequent years have only strengthened the truth of those words. At NMSU, we will remember him fondly, miss him fiercely, and do our best to exemplify his entrepreneurial spirit.


Bryan Ashenbaum, PhD
Dean, College of Business
New Mexico State University