John and Janice Shanahan want to help business students now and for generations to come.
The Lakewood Ranch, Florida, couple’s recent $25,000 gift establishes a scholarship endowment for the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration. The Shanahans plan to increase their endowment each year, ultimately bolstering it with part of their estate.
“In the process of resolving our estate plan, we decided to start right away with an endowment to help deserving students from Mississippi who want to pursue graduate studies within the Business School,” said Shanahan who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Ole Miss in 1969 and 1970 respectively.
“We anticipate the endowment could reach around a million dollars and fund scholarships in perpetuity,” he said. “I am pleased to have discovered this means of paying forward the assistance I received from the university.”
Eligible recipients will be full-time native Mississippians pursuing advanced degrees within the School of Business with a minimum 3.0 grade point average.
Business School Dean Ken Cyree expressed gratitude for the Shanahans’ gift.
“We greatly appreciate John and Janice and their foresight in desiring to provide support to our graduate students, many of whom are working to pay for their additional year of higher education,” Cyree said. “Private gifts like this give students the opportunity to focus on completing their degrees with significantly less financial stress.”
Shanahan, a Vicksburg, Mississippi, native, knows what it’s like to pay one’s own way through college. He worked full-time each summer and part-time during the school year selling men’s clothing for the Carl Coers store on campus, Neilson’s Department Store in Oxford and a local boutique, Owens Ltd. He also enrolled in the Air Force ROTC, which provided financial support during his junior and senior years of undergraduate study and commissioned him a lieutenant upon graduation.
“I have no doubt that my career success can be traced to my diligence in high school and college, and more specifically, to the MBA program at Ole Miss,” he said, adding that he was groomed to be a Rebel from birth. His first year of life was spent on campus in “Vets Village,” where his military parents lived while his father earned business and law degrees from the university.
Additionally, one of his favorite photos shows him as a toddler wearing a T-shirt that read: “Ole Miss Class of 19??”
The university not only conferred Shanahan his degrees but also the opportunity to meet the woman who would become his wife. Their first date was during the Homecoming weekend of 1966. On their third date, he announced his intention to marry her someday.
“I dropped him like a hot rock,” said Janice Shanahan, adding that the separation was short-lived. The Shanahans married during the summer of 1968, celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2018.
After college, Shanahan served his active-duty obligation at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida and then began a marketing career with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio. He rose to the position of brand manager for the Pringle’s snack chip line and subsequently joined Borden Foods in Columbus, Ohio, as manager in grocery products.
As his career continued, he was promoted to general manager of Aseptic Products, for which he developed and introduced beverages in extended shelf-life packaging. Work soon took the couple to Dallas, Texas, and the Southland Corp., where he worked as advertising and promotion manager for all domestic 7-Eleven stores.
From Dallas, they moved to San Francisco, California, where he worked as vice president of marketing for a tech company before buying and managing a local graphics business. His wife joined him once the venture became profitable, and they worked together for nearly 10 years, before selling the business in late 2000.
“We actually shared a desk until we could expand the physical space,” he recalled.
“Yes, he used the pile system and I used the file system,” she added. “It was crazy, but we loved it.”
After traveling extensively throughout the west, the Shanahans moved to Florida as active retirees; travel continues to be a central part of their journey together. Additionally, he spends time both reading and writing novels while she enjoys creative arts and crafts. They also are involved with a guide-dog service organization, frequently fostering dogs and supporting the program financially.
The John and Janice Shanahan Scholarship Endowment accepts gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, mail a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the scholarship’s name in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online at https://give.olemiss.edu.
To support the UM School of Business Administration, contact Tim Noss, development director, at 662-915-5932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Dabney