Honoring the work of Raymond Kennedy through a posthumous degree

Convocation is always a special event for graduates and their families—but one family in particular has been waiting years for the degree their loved one will finally be given this Saturday.

Raymond Kennedy was born in 1924 in southern Indiana and attended what was then called Morgan Township High School in Harrison County. Students at his school all came from either small villages or farms, and many, including Kennedy, lived without the benefits of running water, central heating or bathrooms. Despite dreams of a higher education, upon graduation Kennedy enlisted in the Army, marrying Nathalia Lee prior to being sent to boot camp. He served in both World War II and the Korean War. 

After graduating from the IU School of Education with a B.S. in Education in 1949 and an M.S. in education in 1954, Kennedy was hired to be the Principal of West Baden Springs High School in 1955 at age thirty-one, the youngest high school principal in Indiana. Due to program policies, he could not complete his Ed.D. without leaving his job to be in residence on campus, something that was not possible for him to do. Kennedy died on September 25, 2006, at age 81. Now 17 years after his death, he will finally receive his Ed.D. at this year’s School of Education Convocation ceremony. 

Awarding this posthumous doctoral degree is a tribute to Raymond and all he accomplished. I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate him and his work and give his family this degree.

Dean Anastasia Morrone

Kennedy’s son Shannon said it is difficult, if not impossible, to express the satisfaction, the sense of redemption and the joy of knowing that ultimately, Ray and Lee will have achieved their goal.

“As children, we grew up in the shadow of Indiana University. It was such a place of prestige, status, access and hope, that we visited Bloomington about every two weeks while growing up in Martinsville. It is not an overstatement to say that education literally lifted our family out of relative poverty and economic limitation,” Shannon said. “Dad and Mom wanted us to be exposed to all that is possible through higher education. And Indiana University was woven into our childhoods to make sure we understood their priorities and goals for us.” 

On Saturday, some of Ray’s family, including Shannon and Ray’s grandchildren Tully Kennedy, Kevin Kennedy and wife Jessica, and Melissa Maisenbacher and husband Zachary, will be awarded Ray’s degree. Shannon will be hooded in his father’s place.

“Awarding this posthumous doctoral degree is a tribute to Raymond and all he accomplished. I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate him and his work and give his family this degree,” said Dean Anastasia Morrone.

“In talking with the Kennedy family, I was touched by how much it meant to them to obtain this degree on behalf of their father and grandfather. I’m so glad that we will be able to award this posthumous doctoral degree for Raymond,” said Sarah Lubienski, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

“All our lives were forever changed through Ray’s M.S., and now Ed.D. at Indiana University. We could not be prouder of this achievement for our parents, or more grateful to IU for making it possible,” Shannon added.