In 1971, she founded and became the first principal of Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, only the third such fine arts magnet school in the nation when it opened. Skeptics doubted the school would give students a solid education, and the school wasn't even accredited its first year. In recognition of her contribution to its success, the Houston performing arts high school named its theatre the Denney Theatre.
In 1976, Denney became a professor of drama education at the University of Texas. She taught at UT until 1988. At retirement she was named professor emeritus and many of her former students and colleagues helped establish a scholarship in her honor. The Ruth Denney Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Theatre helps benefit theater arts students.
After her retirement, Denney was key in lobbying Austin Independent School District officials to establish the McCallum Fine Arts Academy at McCallum High School.
Denney's contribution to the arts has been honored many times by organizations including the American Association of Theatre Education, Theatre Under the Stars and the Texas Education Theatre Association. In 1987, she was selected to receive the Houston Mayor's Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts for her role in creating a strong arts community in Houston. In 2002 she was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame.
Obituary information from AMERICAN-STATESMAN ARTS WRITER, March 27, 2007