Family members have established two $1
million James G. Kenan Distinguished Professorships in English or history in the College
of Arts and Sciences that honor the 1932 Carolina graduate, now retired and living in
Atlanta. The first professorship was established by the Spray Foundation in Atlanta,
governed primarily by three of Kenan's children, James G. (Jim) Kenan III '68 of
Lexington, Ky.; Sarah Kenan Kennedy '71 of Atlanta; and Clay Kenan Kirk '64 of New York
City. Jim Kenan established the second professorship in his fatheršs name.
The professorships may be the first of a series of individual professorships
in the College carrying the name of the senior James G. Kenan. Both professorships have
qualified for the state match through the Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund.
Both professorships will attract or retain a distinguished teacher
and scholar in English or history as determined by the dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences at the time of appointment. They will support teachers and scholars specializing
in European or American History or 19th and early 20th century English and American
literature, which are areas of interest to James G. Kenan.
"We did this as a way to honor our father who has such strong
feelings for Carolina," said Jim Kenan, chairman of Kentucky River Coal Corporation,
in Lexington, Ky. "The professorships in English or history reflect his interests
related to the liberal arts at Carolina."
Jim Kenan, a board member of the Arts and Sciences Foundation, has a
deep commitment to faculty support in the College and a personal interest in a strong
liberal arts program.
"Carolina will need increased private support from alumni and
friends to remain one of the best public universities in the nation," he said.
After graduating from Carolina, the senior Kenan attended Harvard
Law School and graduated from Emory University Law School in Atlanta. He served in the
U.S. Navy from December 1941 until January 1946, joining as an ensign and being discharged
as a lieutenant commander. He saw service in England, France and Germany, as well as in
the convoy office in New York.
During his 45-year career, he worked in New York in the investment
business and returned to his home in Atlanta to manage Olympia Investment Corporation,
which was founded by his grandfather Frank Hawkins. Kenan served on numerous boards,
including the advisory committee of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, and on the
board of the Sarah Graham Kenan Foundation. He was also vice chairman and director of
Flagler System, director of Atlanta Speech School, trustee of Episcopal High School in
Virginia, and served on the board of visitors of Emory University. Kenan served on the
vestry of All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta.
While his list of professional accomplishments is extensive, he has
supported Carolina in less obvious ways, from helping former General Alumni Association
Director Maryon "Spike" Saunders determine the health status of the oldest
living Carolina alumnus (also a resident of Atlanta) to helping fund the 1992 University
history Light on the Hill by William Snider.
The Kenan family's history can be traced to the University's
beginnings. Seven successive generations of Kenan family members have attended Carolina.
Gen. James Kenan (1740-1810), a Revolutionary War hero and James G. Kenan's
great-great-great grandfather, was one of the first trustees of the University. Among the
most recent Kenan family members to graduate from Carolina is James G. Kenan's
granddaughter Elizabeth "Boo" Kenan '99.
by Del Johnson