Jeffers with his mother, Betty, in 1996. Photo by Joe
While writing an important
letter, you are suddenly faced with the dreaded “who”
versus “whom” question. Which is correct? Who—or
whom—can you ask?
Do what A&S alumnus
Mike Jeffers (‘62, ‘64) has always done. Ask Betty.
Betty (Ball) Jeffers
(‘34, ‘35), Mike’s mother, was the consummate
grammarian. “She would correct anyone, anywhere,” recalls
Jeffers with a chuckle. “She simply couldn’t help herself.
If my brother or I brought a friend home and that friend made a
grammatical error, my mother might not remember the friend’s
name years later, but she’d remember the specific grammatical
Betty Jeffers died in
2004, but Mike still hears her voice in his head when he encounters
a grammar faux pas. So he found the perfect way to honor her memory:
a $10,000 gift to the English Department to create an interactive
website about grammar. The funding will be used by faculty and graduate
students to develop content for the site.
The website, appropriately
named “Ask Betty,” will be linked to the English
Department’s main web page.
“Ask Betty will be a ‘hotline’ on English grammar
and usage, customized to our
writing courses,” says Richard Dunn, chair of the English
Department. “It will address the grammar and punctuation questions
most frequently asked by our students and will include links to
other web resources.” Although the site will be designed with
students in mind, it will be available for use by the public as
What would Betty Jeffers
think about all this? “I think she’d love it,”
says Mike Jeffers. “To her, using correct English was the
mark of a good first impression. It was something she really believed
And what about that
pesky “who” versus “whom” question? “Betty
would be the first to tell you, it’s whom do you
ask," says Jeffers.
[Winter-Spring 2006 - Table of Contents]