Kennedy family works to honor U-M history


Fifty years after Richard “Dick” Kennedy spearheaded the University of Michigan’s sesquicentennial celebration, his son is following in his footsteps to honor U-M’s history once again.

Building Automation Services Manager Tim Kennedy is the co-chair for U-M’s upcoming bicentennial MSTAFF200 celebration, which will commemorate the contributions of staff during the last 200 years. The staff event takes place June 27 and is a focal point of the U-M bicentennial’s summer festival.  

Tim Kennedy is co-chairing the staff event with Tina Jordan, who is also the celebration’s project manager.

Helping U-M honor its past, and work toward a better future, runs in the Kennedy family.

After briefly serving as director of alumni relations at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, the elder Kennedy, a U-M alumnus, returned to U-M in 1962 as special assistant in the Office of University Relations.

From 1963-67, he directed the university’s sesquicentennial celebration, making him responsible for planning and executing programming commemorating the university’s 150th anniversary.

In the 1960s, Richard Kennedy (inset) directed celebration marking U-M’s 150th anniversary. His son, Tim Kennedy, is now helping the university celebrate its bicentennial. (Photo by Andrew Sacks,; inset photo courtesy of Tim Kennedy)

The celebration, in part, boasted five major ceremonies dedicated to discussing challenges of the university’s past, present and future, according to The Michigan Daily archives. These conferences included an alumni celebration, a conference dedicated to discussing the responsibility of the university to the public and an international conference about higher education in the future.

After overseeing the sesquicentennial, Dick Kennedy dedicated his life to working at U-M. He became secretary of the university and assistant to the president in 1970, and in 1974 he was appointed vice president for state relations. The latter title changed to vice president for government relations in 1984.

Dick Kennedy retired from U-M in 1994 and died in 2003.

“He looked at himself as a public servant that was here to do what was best for the institution,” Tim Kennedy said. 

Over the years, Tim Kennedy said, his father shared his love and commitment of U-M with their family.

When recalling their maize-and-blue childhood, Tim Kennedy and his sister, Peggy Sheagren, U-M program director in leadership and diversity development, recount trips to Rose and Orange bowls, visits to the Fleming Administration Building, watching students dig bomb craters in the Diag and praying for the university team at basketball games.

The two siblings estimate that among their parents, themselves and other siblings and family members, the Kennedy family has contributed about 102 years of service to the university.

“I think we all found that same love and commitment ourselves through his sharing of that,” Tim Kennedy said. “That’s why I think Peggy and I work here. We have almost a sense of ownership to the responsibility of the organization, just like he did.

“… It was a part of our family. Always has been and always will be.”

Decades later, Tim Kennedy said he was thrilled to become the co-chair for the MStaff200 festival, becoming one of many who have helped U-M celebrate its history — just like his father.

“That was one of the first milestones of his career,” Tim Kennedy said. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity for it be a milestone in mine.”



  1. Michael Psarouthakis
    on June 6, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Tim and his family are some of the most wonderful people you could ever meet. To call them Michigan fans is the definition of understatement. Glad to see Tim and the entire Kennedy family get recognition for their dedication to U of M, it is very well deserved. Go Blue!

  2. Marcia DeBoer
    on June 7, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Tim and Peggy follow in their father’s footsteps with their dedication to U of M. This is a terrific tribute to their entire family. It’s an honor to work with the Kennedy’s. Go Blue!

  3. Nancy Asin
    on June 7, 2017 at 7:13 am

    I worked for Dick Kennedy from 1986 until he retired in 2003. He was one of a kind–a terrific person and boss who made every decision with the best interests of the university at heart. So wonderful to see that Tim and Peggy are carrying his legacy forward.

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