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Alumnus Bruce Kennedy is Back On Campus

Alumnus Bruce Kennedy '66 has covered a lot of ground since graduation; his international development work has taken him around the world. Now back on campus as alumnus-in-residence, Mr. Kennedy is eager to share his experience with the Trent University community and beyond.

Now retired and living in Thailand, Mr. Kennedy has been at Traill College since the beginning of March, and will stay on until mid-April. His visit, as only the third alumnus-in-residence, is sponsored by the Alumni Association and Traill College. Earlier this year, Otonabee College hosted alumnus Paul Delaney '64.

Alumni Affairs Director Tony Storey says the alumni-in-residence program is intended to enrich university life. Mr. Kennedy has already spoken to sociology students about his illustrious career, and is also scheduled to talk to International Development Studies students. He will be sitting in on courses as well as talking to local high school students about "backpacking as a form of tourism" and the United Nations. He will also speak on "poverty as a threat to the environment" at a secondary student conference in Cobourg. 

"During my time at Trent, I'm hoping to encourage young people interested in a career in international development by sharing my experience and giving them some ideas as to how to get started," says Mr. Kennedy, who says international development work was his dream as a student.

After completing his bachelor of arts degree in sociology at Trent, Mr. Kennedy went on to Carleton University to complete his master of arts in sociology in 1972 and his master of public administration at Harvard University in 1996. More recently in 1995-96, he returned to Harvard for an MPA course at the Kennedy School of Government.

While Mr. Kennedy pursued sociology, aspiring to a career in research or as a policy analyst, his heart was with work beyond North American borders. He started his career with Statistics Canada but volunteered for Amnesty International in Ottawa as its founding secretary. Through this work, he made contact with CUSO, originally known as "Canadian University Services Overseas". His first posting was teaching english at a rural secondary school in Thailand - the country he now calls home.

In 1976, he joined Foster Parents Plan and after training in Manilla, became an assistant director in Haiti, responsible for programming on the southern coast.  His focus there was pre-primary and adult literacy education and nutrition. In 1979, he became field director in Sudan and planned and implemented support for 6,000 families in a rural province.

After more than two years in Sudan, Mr. Kennedy joined UNICEF, whose services were expanding in Africa. He worked as a project officer supporting regional health projects in Zaire until 1985, when he moved to Sierra Leone to work on universal child immunization. In 1991, Mr. Kennedy became an emergency program officer in Somalia, where he supervised four offices in implementing emergency assistance. After slightly more than a year, he was moved to Fiji to plan and implement support to 13 Pacific island countries, some so small he never visited.

In 1994, he returned to the New York headquarters of UNICEF to coordinate support to Afghanistan and Turkey. After a year, Mr. Kennedy was abroad once again, as a program coordinator in Madagascar.

Since his retirement in 1988, Mr. Kennedy and his wife Sutirathave returned to Thailand, where he was involved in setting up a Montessori School in a small town in the north. 

If you would like to learn more about Mr. Kennedy or involve him in upcoming events on campus, please contact Alumni Affairs.

Mr. Kennedy will be honored by the Alumni Association on April 15 at the Spirit of Trent dinner. He will receive the Spirit of Trent Award, which is presented to an alum who has made a difference, through contribution to the university, the alumni association or the community. This award recognizes those who continue to demonstrate the values and lessons learned at Trent.

Posted March 22, 2005

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