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Two Sisters Honor Brother with Scholarship Endowment

James G. Keenan and his two sistersWhen the sisters of Transylvania Board of Trustees member James G. Kenan III decided to create a lasting tribute to their brother’s dedication and expertise in growing both the University’s endowment and the Kenan family fund, they didn’t have far to look to find an appropriate means.

“In choosing to honor Jim, Transylvania was a pretty obvious choice for us,” said Clay Kirk of New York City, who joined her sister, Sarah Kennedy of Atlanta, to provide a gift of $1 million to endow the JGK III Scholarship Program at Transylvania, which has been augmented by several additional gifts. The merit scholarships will include full tuition, room, board, and fees for four years and be awarded to two entering first-year students every four years, beginning in the fall of 2008.

“Bill Young senior (the late chairman of the board) had gotten Jim involved initially with Transylvania, and he and Jim were very close friends for a long time,” Kirk said.

“Also, Jim raised his family in Lexington and has been a very active member of the community, so we wanted to do something in Lexington, and Transylvania really stood out because of that association.”

As vice chair of Transylvania’s board of trustees and chair of the Investment Committee, Kenan has overseen management of the University’s endowment for the past 20 years. During his tenure, the endowment has grown from $35 million to $145 million.

The JGK III Scholarship will build on the principles established in 1982 with the launch of the prestigious William T. Young Scholarship program, the first merit scholarship program of its type in the region. JGK III scholars will be required to maintain a 3.5 grade point average, be campus leaders, and exhibit excellence of character and responsible citizenship.

William T. Young Jr., chairman of the Transylvania board of trustees, has enjoyed a close working relationship with Kenan on the board as well as a lifelong friendship.

“The scholarships that Clay and Sarah have created in Jim’s honor will let Transylvania compete with the top schools in the country for the very best students,” Young said. “Jim Kenan has been one of the best friends Transylvania has ever had. I can’t thank Clay and Sarah enough for this special gift, and Jim for his lifelong friendship both to me and Transylvania.”

President Charles L. Shearer put the gift and the new scholarship program in perspective, saying, “When very special people are recognized and the results provide opportunities for others, there cannot be a better outcome.”

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