Robert Sheridan might be best known as president and CEO of Savings Bank Life Insurance.
But Sheridan is also a committed advocate for public higher education, and a generous philanthropist whose charitable contributions span a wide range of organizations.
That is why he was honored at UMass Boston with the Chancellor's Medal for Exemplary Leadership - the university's highest honor - at its seventh annual Scholarship Gala. Chancellor J. Keith Motley presented Sheridan with the award, saluting his leadership for promoting UMass Boston.
"Good leaders see what others fail to see," Chancellor Motley said. "For years, Bob Sheridan has recognized the University of Massachusetts as the Commonwealth's most treasured gem."
Sheridan serves as chairman of the UMass Building Authority and was former vice chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees.
More than 550 people filled the university's Campus Center for the April 26 gala, including Senator Scott Brown, former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, and UMass President Jack Wilson.
The event, the most successful benefit in UMass Boston's history, raised nearly $400,000 toward the new Robert and Jean O'Hara Sheridan Scholarship fund.
The scholarship will be awarded annually to residents of Boston and Everett who are full-time UMass Boston undergraduates, with a preference for those who participate in co-curricular activities.
Sheridan, a native of Everett, benefited from scholarship support as an undergraduate. Both Sheridan and his wife, Jean O'Hara Sheridan, are first generation college graduates. More than half of UMass Boston students are also first generation college students; eighty percent remain in Massachusetts to pursue their careers.
"I know giving is better than receiving, and the loyalty to principle and to individuals cues up success personally and professionally," Sheridan said upon receiving the award.
Calling himself a "rabid fan" of UMass, he added, "I continue to see this university as a primary entryway to the world of real opportunity for students from Boston, Everett, the rest of Massachusetts, and elsewhere."
Sheridan joins a select group of Chancellor's Medal recipients, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Congressman Edward Markey, Senator John Kerry, and Governor Deval Patrick.
Nanette Cormier contributed to this story.