On March 31, the Kennedys and their children were recognized at an annual UT banquet.
The seven Kennedy children bestowed the endowment in recognition of their parents’ commitment to send all their children to college, in spite of significant financial sacrifices.
At a time when most Texas high school graduates did not attend college, all seven of the Kennedy children did. The endowment was a 2008 Christmas gift to their parents.
The annual scholarship will be awarded to a UT student who “is studying Chinese as a second language.”
In 1986, Kevyn Kennedy, a liberal arts graduate of UT, was one of 20 students at the university (then with an enrollment of more than 50,000 students) who received his College of Liberal Arts degree, with a major in Chinese.
Currently, there are 356 UT students in the Chinese study program, of the near 60,000 enrolled at UT, Austin.
Kevyn Kennedy is currently living in Taipei, Taiwan, where he owns a business and regularly commutes to Shanghai, China for a second similar business he owns.
The six other Kennedy children live in Texas. They include one other UT graduate.
Michael, the sixth Kennedy child, enthusiastically joined Kevyn as a participant for the endowment.
Bill Kennedy, upon learning of the memorial scholarship, said “Of course, Tomiko and I were surprised, elated, and nearly overwhelmed when we learned of being named honorees of such an important assistance for future UT students in the Chinese program. We thank our children, enthusiastically.”
The Department of Asian Studies is one of the adjuncts to the UT College of Liberal Arts.
In his announcement of the “Kennedy Memorial Scholarship,” Dr. Steven W. Leslie, UT executive vice-president and provost, said the scholarship was created to assist undergraduates who want to study Chinese language, literature, culture, or history.
“Bill and Tomiko Kennedy live in Woodsboro, which is not far from Goliad in South Texas,” Leslie said. “They’re active in charitable and social organizations after having retired from their respective careers as a postmaster and teacher. Bill and Tomiko earned their degrees from institutions other than The University of Texas, but two of their seven children are UT alums and have chosen, along with their siblings, to honor their parents here at UT.
“The family says that the Bill and Tomiko Kennedy Memorial Endowed Presidential Scholarship is in recognition of the couple’s lifelong commitment to educate each of their kids. Tomiko and Bill often told them as they were growing up that there were no limits to what they could accomplish.
“We thank Tomiko and Bill Kennedy for being here so that we can honor them in person tonight. Thanks also to each of the family members who are here to share the joy.
“Your generous scholarship will continue the family legacy by helping worthy students to achieve excellence at UT Austin.”
In attendance were the senior Kennedys and their three daughters, Sherri, Bonnie and Judi.
Kevyn Kennedy was officially notified of UT’s establishment of the memorial scholarship Dec. 3, 2008.
“You and your siblings’ decision to provide this enduring support in the name of your parents will advance our University’s core purpose: To transform lives for the benefit of society,” said James W. Kunetka, associate vice president for development.
“Thank you for your belief in UT Austin’s educational and cultural mission and your trust in our ability to recognize what this gift means to you and to the future of our University.”
The Kennedy children specified that funds from the endowment shall be used to support upper-level undergraduates who have completed at least two years of Chinese classes at the college level. Preference will be given to students who are learning Chinese as a second language.