Skip Menu

Scholarship established in memory of Nelson Phillips

The Morehead State University Foundation has announced the establishment of the Toney Nelson Phillips Geology Scholarship. The fund was established in honor of Toney Nelson Phillips (83), or “Nelson” to his former professor and advisor Charlie Mason (75), as well as his family and friends.  

Phillips first graduated from Morehead State University in 1983 with his Bachelor of Arts in Government and a minor in history. Upon completing his degree, he began work as a manager at Pasquales Italian Shop, a popular Italian restaurant on Main Street in Morehead. After working there for some time, he continued his education and enrolled in a geology night class. He enjoyed the course so much that decided to leave his job and become a full-time student again at MSU to pursue a degree in geology. During his time as a geology major, he took every class and opportunity to learn about the field of geology, as well as supplementary courses in math, physics and chemistry. He became a fixture in Lappin Hall. 

Phillips was noted to be a very positive person, always encouraging other students to do their best and was well liked by the professors in his department and Lappin Hall. He graduated with his second degree from MSU in 2016, a Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems – Geology with a minor in mathematics and continued to take upper division math and physics courses to better prepare for his graduate work. He accepted a position with Raptor Consulting in Pennsylvania. Before he was able to start his new career and utilize his new degree, he unexpectedly passed away in the fall of 2018. To honor his love for geology, his former professor Charlie Mason, along with his sister Cynthia, created this scholarship in his memory.   

“Nelson’s positive attitude and love for the field of geology was contagious,” said Charlie Mason, professor of geology. “I hope everyone who knew Nelson will make a gift to this fund in his memory. I believe he would be honored to have a geology scholarship awarded in his name every year and I am excited to help make that happen.” 

Students who have declared geology as their major will be eligible to apply for the scholarship. Preference will be given to nontraditional students from the MSU service region.     

For more information on this scholarship, or to make a gift in memory of Nelson, contact MSU’s Office of Alumni Relations and Development at 606-783-2033, email or visit