Poetry at UTC has received a major present.

The Kennedy Foundation, Inc. has pledged $1 million to the University of Chattanooga Foundation for the benefit of students studying poetry at UTC. The money will be used to fund scholarships as well as endow a professorship to teach poetry.

Jim D. Kennedy Jr., as president of the foundation, made the donation in honor of his late wife, Dorothy Hellerstedt Kennedy, a UTC graduate and active poet.

“She learned at an early age the magic of the written word. She knew how a well-turned phrase or line of verse could bring happiness or reflection, sadness or laughter,” her husband said.

College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Joe Wilferth calls the endowment “a wonderful way to honor the life of his wife, Dorothy, and her appreciation of the literary arts. This gift, particularly the scholarship portion, will have a tremendous impact on our English students who are studying poetry as an art form.”

Andrew McCarthy, head of the English department, says the gift is “utterly transformative.”

“It will allow us to do all sorts of things that we only ever dreamed of,” he says. “It can draw attention to what we’re doing at UTC.”

The scholarships, meanwhile, will make it easier to recruit new students, he says. “Creative writing is the thing that students love; they love to study English and write poetry.”

After he and Dorothy moved to Chattanooga, Kennedy said, she began writing poetry “as a way to express her thoughts and experiences. Although she rarely shared her poetry with others, she expressed in many of her works a deeper meaning by often telling a story within a story. In her last years, she was able to reach outside of her failing health to express deeper thoughts with an economy of words and wisdom.

“The Kennedy family is proud to honor Dorothy Hellerstedt Kennedy’s love of poetry with a scholarship and a professorship at her alma mater.”

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, the University of Chattanooga Foundation was created in 1969 when the private University of Chattanooga merged with Chattanooga City College and joined the University of Tennessee system of statewide campuses.  The foundation now manages total assets of nearly $250 million and is governed by a board of directors of local and regional volunteers.

Gifts made to the University of Chattanooga Foundation are tax deductible as allowed by law.  For more information on how you can support UTC students, please contact Bryan Rowland at 423-425-4232 or bryan-rowland@utc.edu.


Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call (423) 425-4363.
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1 Comment » for Scholarships, professor position funded by Kennedy Foundation endowment
  1. What a wonderful gift!

    A poet employs the economy of words.

    Thank you for appreciating the value of the Arts,

    Jeannie Cerulean

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