Trustee donates $200,000 to Cornell College to fund Commons project, Pre-Law

MOUNT VERNON – Cornell College trustee and alumna Sheryl Atkinson Stoll ’70 says she owes much of her success to her alma mater. Now, Cornell students can say they owe much of their success to Sheryl Stoll.

people_sheryl_william_stoll_july_16_2009-001Stoll and her husband William have donated $200,000 to Cornell in support of the Pre-Law Program she helped create and to help fund The Commons renovation project.

“I believe completely that I would not be the person I am and have had the success that I have if not for my experiences at Cornell College,” said Stoll, an attorney for Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease LLC in Columbus, Ohio.

The bulk of the gift will go toward renovations of the campus’ central hub, The Commons. Renovations to The Commons will increase the building size by 28 percent to accommodate enrollment growth and modern student life activities. The plans call for sweeping changes to the building’s upper-level entryway, along with a two-story addition on the back. The Orange Carpet, Cornell’s popular epicenter, will remain the focus of The Commons.

Stoll, a Waterloo native, was the first in her family to graduate from college and found herself right at home at Cornell. She had an early interest in law, but went into elementary education upon graduation. While she loved teaching, she decided she wanted more, and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Iowa. Still, she credits Cornell and the many people who touched her life there with giving her the confidence to challenge herself to reach beyond what she might have otherwise achieved.

Renderings of The Commons project from the north (left) and south (right). Click either photo to view a larger image.

“I think that opening one’s mind to infinite possibilities is what liberal arts is all about,” said Stoll. “I didn’t understand that for several years, even after graduating. It takes some time to look back and really appreciate your liberal arts education.”

Stoll’s gift will also fund, in part, the current Pre-Law Program she helped launch in 2005. The Cornell College Pre-Law Program guides and prepares students in all major fields for successful admission to law school and careers in the legal profession.  The program also supports Cornell’s Mock Trial team, which, in only its third year, qualified for the American Mock Trial Association National Championship Tournament this past spring.

“The Pre-Law Program would not be what it is today without Sheryl’s initiative, leadership and guidance,” said President Les Garner.  “This gift exemplifies Sheryl and Bill’s commitment to the college.  We are fortunate to have their support.”

The Stolls’ gift is part of Cornell College’s comprehensive campaign Extraordinary Opportunities: The Campaign for Cornell College which will continue through December 2009. The campaign will enhance the Cornell experience by increasing the college’s endowment, upgrading its facilities, and enhancing the academic program.

For more information about the campaign or making a gift, visit or contact Peter Wilch, Vice President for Alumni and College Advancement at 319-895-4315 or