Skip Menu

MSU mourns the loss of alumna Ruth Boggs Shannon

Ruth Shannon Boggs and President Morgan PictureRuth Boggs Shannon (Class of 1945), a passionate philanthropist, charitable giver and member of the MSU Alumni Hall of Fame, passed away on May 25, 2021, at 97.  

Ruth was born in Tollesboro and grew up in the Maysville and Germantown area. She was the first person in her family to attend college and earned a bachelor's degree in education from MSU in 1945. During her time on campus, she met her husband, Ed L. Shannon Jr., who was majoring in mathematics at the time. He left the campus to serve in World War II and upon his return, the couple married in Maysville in 1947. They moved to California where Ed enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley and completed a degree in petroleum engineering. He went on to have a successful career in the oil industry. This career led the couple to live in Australia, Peru and Venezuela.  

The Shannons settled in Whittier, California, and were well-respected in the community. The couple had a desire to improve the area where they lived and were local philanthropists. Ruth bestowed philanthropy to 45 nonprofit organizations in Whittier during her life. She served on the board of the Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (PIH). Through her work at PIH, she helped spearhead the establishment of the Ruth B. Shannon Maternity Center and the neonatal care unit while heading the "Century Campaign" that raised $27 million for the Foundation Tower for Advanced Medicine. She later named the Ed. L. Shannon Tower in honor of her husband, who passed away in 2008. Ruth served as a trustee for Whittier College for nearly three decades. At Whittier, she led the fundraising campaign that established the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts. She also helped establish the Whittier First Day Coalition homeless rehabilitation shelter. The Shannons have been recognized by numerous organizations for their philanthropic endeavors and humanitarian efforts, individually and as a couple. 

The couple has also maintained strong ties with Morehead State University. In 1996, the couple established the Ruth Boggs Shannon and E.L. Shannon Jr. Scholarship Endowment. Since that time, the couple have contributed over $175,000 to this scholarship endowment which supports scholarships for students majoring in education. The scholarship is awarded to students during their final semester of student teaching.  

“The impact of the Shannons’ support is immeasurable in the work we are doing to train future educators,” said Dr. Tony Norman, dean of the Volgenau College of Education. “Their generosity has helped us support so many of our students, especially those with financial need and a heart for teaching in their home communities inside our service region. And their gift truly keeps on giving—not only supporting future teachers to reach their educational aspirations but also as they touch the lives of the children and families in their schools and communities for many years to come.” 

In 2001, the couple established the Ruth Boggs Shannon and E.L. Shannon Jr. Professorship in Elementary Education. They contributed over $500,000 to support this initiative which assists faculty in the Volgenau College of Education annually by providing funding for special projects.  

“Mrs. Shannon was a proud Eagle alumna who valued her education from Morehead State University,” said Mindy Highley (Class of 1991, 1993), assistant vice president for alumni relations and development. “We are extremely grateful that she loyally supported her alma mater and leaves a legacy as an educator and philanthropist here at MSU.” 

Ruth was inducted into MSU's Alumni Hall of Fame in 2001 was awarded an honorary doctorate in public service from MSU in 2002. Ruth also accepted an honorary degree on behalf of her husband who was awarded the degree posthumously from MSU in 2010. The couple’s legacy and their commitment to education will be passed down for generations to come through the philanthropic commitment that they bestowed upon MSU.  

Photo, left to right: Mrs. Ruth Boggs Shannon with MSU President Dr. Jay Morgan during a visit to campus in 2018. Mrs. Shannon lived in Fields Hall during her time as a student.