Alumni Couple Gives Back to Business School

Shanahans increase endowment for graduate students

Janice and John Shanahan have added an additional $50,000 to a scholarship endowment they established in 2019 for the School of Business Administration. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – John Shanahan, who graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1969 and 1970, respectively, recently added an additional $50,000 to a scholarship endowment he established in 2019.

The John and Janice Shanahan Scholarship Endowment is designed to help MBA students get the same foundation for a successful career in business that he did. Since the endowment’s inception, two graduate students have benefitted from the couple’s generosity.

“About five years ago, we were doing some estate planning, and the endowment program appealed to me because of the long-term nature of it,” Shanahan said. “I want to build it up to $250,000, and then add additional funds through an estate gift. It’s a way to help students in perpetuity.”

When Shanahan arrived at Ole Miss from his native Vicksburg, he worked his way through college with various jobs at the Carl Coers store on campus, Neilson’s Department Store and Owens Ltd., a local boutique. He also joined the Air Force ROTC, which covered part of his tuition. Upon graduation, he was commissioned a lieutenant.

Amid all the schoolwork and jobs, Shanahan met his wife, Janice, during his sophomore year, and the couple married the following summer, in 1968. They lived on campus during his senior year, and Janice later graduated from Ohio State University.

When it came time for graduate school, the university offered John Shanahan a fellowship to offset tuition expenses.

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to pay the school back with my gift,” Shanahan said. “They helped me at a time when I needed it.”

Shanahan’s first job after earning his MBA was at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, a “dream job” for the young graduate. While there, he notably helped introduce the world to Pringles during the early 1970s. Following that role, he moved to Borden Foods in Columbus, Ohio, where he stayed for five years.

The Shanahans then moved to Dallas, where he worked for Southland Corp., the parent company of 7-Eleven. He managed all of the advertising and promotions for the massive brand.

After their tenure in Texas, the couple relocated to San Francisco, where Shanahan worked as vice president of marketing for a tech company beginning in 1987. One of the company’s focuses was a paging wristwatch called the Messagewatch, revolutionary technology at the time. The Shanahans eventually went into business for themselves, with a franchise called FastSigns, which they operated until his retirement in 2001.

The Shanahans live in Sarasota, Florida, and are enjoying retirement.

“After the 30-year mark in 2001, I had done well enough financially to cut the cord. We’ve been traveling, just having a great time for over 20 years,” Shanahan said.

In his spare time over the last decade, Shanahan has also turned to writing, self-publishing four fiction novels as of 2023.

Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration, is grateful for all the Shanahans have done for the business program.

“There are few gifts that benefit graduate students, so we are especially appreciative of this focus for these funds,” Cyree said. “Dedication like the Shanahans’ will enhance the recruitment of outstanding students. Their gift will help provide an excellent educational opportunity and increase the Ole Miss business school’s academic reputation.”

Angela Brown, senior director of development for the business school, got to know the Shanahans while their endowment was being established.

“When John and Janice gave initially, it was amazing, but their continued giving shows they recognize the value in continuing to grow the scholarship and help our university and more students,” Brown said. “It’s special to work with them and to see the impact their scholarship endowment will make on our students.”

When reflecting on his time as a student, Shanahan notes that much of his achievements in business came from Ole Miss.

“I’m just thankful for the success I’ve had in my life; I attribute that to a solid education,” he said. “The ability to give back is very special to us, and I look forward to it lasting a long time even after I’m gone.”

To contribute to the John and Janice Shanahan Scholarship Endowment, mail a check with the scholarship’s name in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or give online at

For more information on supporting the business school, contact Angela Brown, senior director of development, at or 662-915-3181.