In recognition of her dedicated service to the community, her longtime support of Xavier University and her commitment to the Jesuit Catholic values upon which it was founded, Xavier presented Catherine “Kate” Kennedy with its 2012 Founders’ Day Award.
Her commitment to Xavier is broad and deep, though not necessarily obvious to many on campus. And that’s the way this unassuming civic leader prefers it.
A native of Batesville, Ind., Catherine Hillenbrand Kennedy grew up in what she describes as a large, wonderful family with strong Catholic values that gave her a solid foundation and clear perspective on life. "We were blessed,” the 1964 Edgecliff alumna emphasizes, “but dad focused on the responsibilities that came with those blessings."
Kennedy and her husband, Larry, live in Indianapolis; two of their four children are Xavier graduates. Over the years, she has held many leadership positions in education and civic organizations, including the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Prior to joining Xavier’s Board of Trustees in 1998, she chaired the board of Brebeuf Jesuit Prep in Indianapolis, the first female to chair a Jesuit high school board.
The scope of the Kennedys’ generosity to Xavier includes supporting the To See Great Wonders Campaign that funded the Hoff Academic Quad, the XU Legacy Fund and Century Campaign. The couple belongs to the 1831 Society. The Catherine and Lawrence Kennedy Lecture Hall in Conaton Learning Commons is named in their honor.
Kate Kennedy's time commitment to Xavier has been considerable. She has served more than 14 years on the board, chaired the Academic Affairs Committee from 2000 to 2006 and served on the Executive, Plant and Building, and Development committees. She supports Xavier because she believes deeply in the Jesuit values the University instills in its students. She credits the University for leading by example. That example, says Kate, inspires and challenges students to develop the unique gifts God has given them so they may know who they are and make a positive difference in the world.