The Regents of the University of Michigan commend Richard L. Kennedy as he completes 38 years of outstanding service and leadership to the University community. The longest serving executive officer in the history of the University, Richard Kennedy has served with 19 different regents, five presidents, and 27 vice presidents. In his 24 years as secretary of the university, his signature has appeared on over 227,000 diplomas, a record which may never be duplicated at this or any other university.
A Michigan native, Richard Kennedy graduated from the University of Michigan in 1954. In 1955, he married Ann Marie Moran, his college sweetheart, who became his career partner and mother of their five children. He began his distinguished career at the University in 1956 as a field representative with the Development Council, where he developed the initial concept for the President's Club, which to this day serves as the cornerstone of the University's highly successful major gifts and capital campaign effort. In 1961, he was recruited to serve as director of alumni relations at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, but returned to the University of Michigan in 1962 as special assistant in the Office of University Relations. From 1963-67, Dick served as executive director of the University's Sesquicentennial Celebration, with overall responsibility for planning and executing the year long program commemorating the University's 150th anniversary. He served as director of state and community relations from 1968-70 and became secretary of the university and assistant to the president in 1970. In 1974, he was appointed vice president for state relations, and in 1984 his title was changed to vice president for government relations to reflect his broadened leadership role in state, community, and federal relations. Under his guidance, the University established two major outreach offices, in Washington, D.C. and in Lansing.
The long-time "dean of community affairs" at the University, Dick has served on the boards of scores of University and community organizations including those governing M-Care, University Hospitals, and Intercollegiate Athletics, as well as the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce, Washtenaw United Way, University Musical Society, and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. His many roles in the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) over the years led to his being acclaimed as a pioneer and innovator, and in his being recruited to author a chapter on effective government relations in the second edition of Handbook of Institutional Advancement (1986). Dick's unique skills and multiple talents have also been recognized by the Big Ten Government Relations Officers group, where he is known as "Big Ten lobbyist and chief piano player."
Every large, complex, bureaucratic organization needs to have one person who is so universally respected and admired that he is understood to be the one who can be counted on for advice or assistance when all else fails. Dick Kennedy has been that person at the University of Michigan for more than 30 years. A man of exceptional wisdom, insight, modesty, and unfailing good humor, Dick has served as advisor, friend, and confidant to University and community leaders, students, and many others from all walks of life. The Regents now express their profound gratitude to Dick and Ann Kennedy for their lifelong devotion and leadership and proudly name Richard L. Kennedy secretary emeritus of the university.
In further recognition of Dick's unparalleled leadership, commitment, and service to the University community and to the Regents in his dual roles as vice president and secretary of the university, Union Drive was renamed Richard L. Kennedy Drive, a most fitting tribute to Vice President Kennedy, as due to his long tenure, he has probably spent more time in the Fleming Building than anyone else, and that his office overlooks the street to be renamed.
Regents’ Proceedings, June 1994, Page 333