- Wake Up to UND
- Strategic Planning Speeches
- Eye of the Hawk Lecture Series
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Mark R. Kennedy was named the 12th president of the University of North Dakota by the State Board of Higher Education on March 15, 2016. His term began July 1, 2016, succeeding Interim President Ed Schafer and President Robert Kelley, who retired Jan. 14, 2016.
Kennedy came to UND from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., where since 2012 he was a professor and director of the Graduate School of Political Management. His teaching and research addressed issues of how organizations can engage governments and societies around the world.
Born in Benson, Minn., and raised in Murdock and Pequot Lakes, Minn., he earned his bachelor’s degree at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and his master’s degree in business administration, with distinction, at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He then served as an executive with several firms, including Pillsbury and Macy’s.
From 2001 to 2007, Kennedy served in the U.S. House of Representatives, first for Minnesota’s Second District and then for its Sixth District. While in Congress, he sat on the Agriculture, Financial Services and Transportation committees, where he established a reputation for bipartisanship. Kennedy was then appointed to the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations, serving under both Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.
After Congress, Kennedy served as the Global Retail Business Development Lead for Accenture, a global management consulting and technology firm. He also lectured and led research projects at the University of Pennsylvania, Notre Dame, the London Business School and others, and served as an executive in residence at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School.
Kennedy is the founder of the Economic Club of Minnesota and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He founded the Mark Kennedy Frontiers of Freedom Lecture Series at St. John’s University and authored “Shapeholders: Business Success in the Age of Activism,” published by Columbia University Press.
Kennedy’s time at UND, so far, has been marked by rapid change and guided by a new, all-encompassing vision for the University — the One UND Strategic Plan. Across the board, the strategic plan has served as a road map to strengthen the University and solidify its position as the state’s chief opportunity engine and region’s premier flagship university.
Kennedy worked with more than 900 stakeholders from across campus and beyond to develop and implement the One UND plan. He did this against a backdrop of significant budget cuts mandated on all state agencies to deal with a significant slow-up in North Dakota’s economy. The Grand Forks Herald lauded Kennedy’s leadership in advancing the plan by naming him its 2017 Person of the Year.
Kennedy also was instrumental in the creation of the Research Institute for Autonomous Systems, which has bolstered UND’s place as a global leader in the field of unmanned and autonomous research application and policy development.
Kennedy is the third generation of his family to live in North Dakota. His grandmother helped homestead outside Tioga in the early 1900s, and his parents lived in Golva and Hunter, during which time his older sister was born in Fargo.
Kennedy is joined at UND by his wife and first lady, Debbie Kennedy, a native of Hawley, Minn. They have four adult children.