Introducing Dr. Mary E. Kennard

Introducing Our Newest Senior Consultant: Dr. Mary E. Kennard

September  2023

We are thrilled to announce the latest addition to our esteemed team of experts in higher education executive search. Dr. Mary E. Kennard has joined us as a Senior Consultant, bringing with her an impressive background in university administration and legal affairs.

Dr. Kennard’s career in higher education spans over 40 years, during which she has held key leadership roles at both public and private colleges and universities. Notably, she served as the Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for American University in Washington, DC, for an impressive 23 years.

Dr. Kennard also served as President and a Board Member of NACUA and was honored as a Life Member in recognition of her outstanding service and substantial contributions to the organization and the field of higher education law.

Beyond her legal expertise, Dr. Kennard has excelled in diverse areas of university administration. She has served as the Chief Development Officer for both the University of Rhode Island and American University, successfully spearheading capital campaigns. Additionally, she has led human resources departments at both URI and AU, contributing to the well-being of the university communities.

As Dr. Kennard joins our team, she will naturally conduct general counsel and law school dean searches, as well as presidential, academic, and other positions. Her deep expertise in higher education leadership will further strengthen our commitment to delivering exceptional executive search services to the higher education community.

We also want to acknowledge the transition of Mr. William F. Howard, and Ms. Deborah S. Howard, who have moved to Of Counsel status, where they will specialize in legal searches, after having conducted many other types of searches in their roles as Senior Consultants with Academic Search. We are grateful to Mr. and Ms. Howard’s continued support of our mission of building strong higher education institutions through their new roles.

Dr. Kennard: A Respected Thought Leader and Educator

Dr. Kennard’s influence extends beyond the institutions she has served. She is a sought-after speaker at national conferences, addressing topics ranging from law to higher education administration and board governance. Her work in producing a Telly Award-winning video in collaboration with the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) showcases her commitment to innovative approaches in the field.

Moreover, Dr. Kennard’s contributions to the sector include co-authoring a Legal Primer for Board Operations published by the Association of Governing Boards. Her depth of knowledge and experience make her an invaluable asset to the Academic Search team.

Dr. Kennard’s commitment to higher education is further reflected in her service on the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Board of Directors of the National Student Clearinghouse, including its Research Board. She has also been active in her service on the Board of HERS, during which time the organization sought a new president. Dr. Kennard played an active role in leading the Board in identifying and clarifying the characteristics needed in the next leader.

Her involvement in advisory councils, such as the Boston University, Metropolitan College Dean’s Advisory Council, and the Advisory Board of the Georgetown University Law Center – Corporate Counsel Institute, also showcases her dedication to shaping the future of education.

Recognized for Excellence

Notably, Dr. Kennard’s remarkable journey has been marked by groundbreaking achievements, including being the first African American Vice President of the University of Rhode Island and the first African American to serve as legal counsel for an entire state system of higher education in the United States.

Dr. Kennard’s dedication to diversity in US higher education has earned her an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Rhode Island. Boston University also recognized her outstanding contributions with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award.

We are excited to welcome Dr. Mary E. Kennard to Academic Search and are confident that her wealth of experience and dedication will greatly benefit our partners and the higher education sector as a whole. Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Dr. Kennard as she embarks on this exciting journey with us. Together, we aim to shape the future of higher education leadership.

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