Shannon McCune served as president of the university for less than eighteen months. Elected by the trustees on February 27, 1965, he was formally installed on April 16, 1966, and resigned on August 7, 1966.
McCune was born on April 6, 1913, in Sonchon, Korea, where his parents were Presbyterian missionaries. He attended elementary and secondary schools in Korea and received a B.A. degree with honors from the College of Wooster, Ohio, in 1935, followed by a master’s degree from Syracuse University in 1937 and a Ph.D. degree in geography from Clark University.
A geographer specializing in research on Asia, he was the prolific author of more than one hundred articles. He began his teaching career at Ohio State University and performed economic intelligence work for the government during World War II, serving much of the time in the Far East. In 1946 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in China. From 1947 to 1955, he taught at Colgate University and then served as provost of the University of Massachusetts. During 1961–62, he was director of UNESCO in Paris, and he later served as assistant to the president of the University of Illinois. He was married to Edith Blair, and they had two daughters.
As soon as he arrived on campus, McCune created a “troika” of three vice presidents for finance, academic affairs, and administrative and student affairs. McCune’s presidency was so brief that he presided over only a few events, including the groundbreaking for the third phase of the medical building program and the launching of the Canadian Studies Program. In 1966 he resigned to accept a year’s research leave in the Far East. In 1967 he returned to the United States and was the director of the American Geographic Society for two years. He then accepted a position as professor of geography at the University of Florida in Gainesville where he continues to reside following his retirement.