Xavier presented its 2012 Founders’ Day Award to Catherine “Kate” Kennedy in recognition of her dedicated service to the community, her longtime support of Xavier and her commitment to the Jesuit Catholic values upon which it was founded. The award was announced at the annual Founders’ Day Dinner held on campus on Thursday evening, Sept. 27.
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 said, “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 recent To See Great Wonders Campaign that funded the Hoff Academic Quad, and the earlier XU Legacy Fund and Century Campaign. They are members of The 1831 Society, an elite group of donors whose leadership gifts to the University support financial aid for students and help pay for new construction and academic programs. The Catherine and Lawrence Kennedy Lecture Hall in Conaton Learning Commons is named in their honor.
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 Committee, the Plant and Building Committee, and the Development Committee. She supports Xavier because she believes in the Jesuit values the University instills in its students. And dhe 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.