W. Keith Kennedy, provost emeritus, professor emeritus at Cornell and former dean of Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, died Feb. 18 at his home in Ithaca. He was 92 years old.
Kennedy was raised on a plum farm outside Vancouver, Wash. Upon graduating from Washington State University, he was offered an assistantship at Cornell, where he would subsequently devote virtually all of his professional life.
Kennedy's graduate studies at Cornell were interrupted during World War II for service in the U.S. Army, which he left as a major. He received his Ph.D. in agriculture and animal nutrition at Cornell in 1947 and, after two years teaching at Washington State, returned to Cornell, where Professor Richard Bradfield had offered him a full professorship in agronomy.
In 1959, Kennedy was appointed director of research in the College of Agriculture, and in 1965 became the associate dean of the college. In 1972 he became the dean, the director of research of the college, as well as the director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.
In 1978, Kennedy accepted the position of provost at Cornell. As provost, he balanced the budget for several years in a row; prior to that time, the university's annual budgets had been in the red for many years, causing a devastating drain on the endowments.
Upon his retirement from the latter post, he was described by Cornell President Frank Rhodes as "as generous and sensitive an individual as he is forthright, perceptive and capable as an administrator."
In 1990, the new administrative building of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was named in Kennedy's honor.
In retirement, Kennedy continued to serve the university as acting dean of admissions and financial aid. Last year he received Cornell's Frank H.T. Rhodes award for Exemplary Alumni Service. Kennedy also worked for The Atlantic Philanthropies and was active on behalf of numerous non-profit agencies in the Ithaca area, serving on various boards and receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cayuga Medical Center at Ithaca and the Agda Osborne Award from Family and Children's Service of Ithaca.
Kennedy was predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Barbara Barber Kennedy, whom he married when they were both students at Cornell. He is survived by two adult sons and their families.
Feeling that he had been eulogized enough during his lifetime, Kennedy requested that there be no memorial services. Memorial contributions can be made to the W. Keith Kennedy Cornell Tradition Fellowship at Cornell University, c/o University Development, 130 E. Seneca St., Suite 400, Ithaca, NY 14850.