Community message about the passing of former UMaine President Kennedy

Dear University of Maine community,

The University of Maine lost one of its champions this week. Former University of Maine President Robert Kennedy passed away in his home state of Minnesota. Bob was a member of the UMaine community for more than 11 years, serving as president from 2005–11.

He came to UMaine in 2000 as vice president and provost for four years, then as interim president before being named UMaine president. UMaine achievements under his leadership include construction of the New Balance Student Recreation Center and the Foster Innovation Center, growth of the offshore wind program, and establishment of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. Campaign Maine, the more than $150 million comprehensive campaign, launched shortly after Bob became president.

In 2002, UMaine’s campus was designated as an arboretum with support from Bob, who had a Ph.D. in botany and a special love for the natural landscape.

Bob’s vision and enthusiasm for the University of Maine and its positive impact on students and the state were matched by his appreciation for the many people who played a role in UMaine’s success. He often noted that the greatest benefit of his job as president was “the opportunity to meet the people — alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends — who exemplify the warm and welcoming nature of this magnificent university community.” He loved what he described as the University of Maine family.

I did not have the pleasure of meeting Bob, but I know his legacy and how it has shaped the university we are today. His leadership made a lasting impact and was part of our foundation in becoming an R1 research university. On a personal note, every day I enjoy the beautiful “Presidents’ Grove” of Norway spruce off Munson Road, planted by Bob and students in 2010.

We extend our deepest condolences to Bob’s wife, Mary Rumpho-Kennedy, an inspiring researcher, mentor and colleague who was a UMaine faculty member. Our thoughts are with their sons, Caleb, Alex, Bryce and Curran; other family members and friends.


Joan Ferrini-Mundy