If you’ve heard of Dr. Kennedy, you might know him because you were lucky enough to be a student in one of his math classes.You might know him from being the recipient of Baylor’s first ever professorship award, the Carter Lupton Professorship, in 1981.You may have studied one of hisnumerous Algebra I, II, Precal-culus, or AP Calculus textbooks. Maybe you crossed paths with him while he was receiving his PhD at the University of North Carolina. If you ever took the AP Calculus exam, Dr. Kennedy could have been the man who wrote it.
There is no question—Dr. Dan Kennedy is a man of fantastic mathematics accomplishment. But I wondered, sitting across from my calculus teacher on a Friday afternoon, exactly where his aura of nonchalance comes from. Coming to the end of the career he dedicated his life to, one would imagine he might be asking himself if he was making the right choice or trying to fit in loads of events before his inevitable departure. Yet leaning back in a swivel chair in front of a pile of papers to grade, Dr. Ken-nedy emits absolute contentment. Even Jim Kennedy, who once taught at Baylor and now serves as the director of admissions and enrollment, will tell you that there is “no sense of the road not taken” when it comes to his only brother and Baylor School colleague.
I barrage him with questions, looking for the secret to living a life of no regrets. Dr. Kennedy obligingly relives his time at Baylor with me, and suddenly, everything he says comes to life. He tells me of nail-biting football games at Red Bank and the star players that once defended our title, of the dense woods that used to cover the lower fields and how only an experienced hiker could navigate them, of a particularly observant student showing him the correct way to cut a bundt cake, of pining after old friends who retired and how it’s finally his turn, of being the chair of the AP Committee whilst discovering how unfair standardized testing can be for students, of announcing football games and leading dorm activities and sitting in Chapel and driving home each day. This is the world through the eyes of a person who has stood as a constant while the world moved around him. When those amazing athletes were recruited for college and those woods were choppeddown, he stayed, and his peace of mind in describing this tells me his secret: joy in change. He sees the beauty in both sides: in thestudents thriving at Baylor andchasing their dreams in university,in the trails he once enjoyed andthe baseball fields students enjoytoday. There is no desire for the past because the present is just as desirable. And his future? Dr. Kennedy is “excited to have his evenings back,” and he looks forward to voyaging the U.S., seeing movies, and continuing to write textbooks. He ends this year with the graduation of his nephew, Kristopher Kennedy ’19, and promises to come back and visit, telling me, “I don’t expect to be a stranger!”
On behalf of Baylor School, I would like to thank Dr. Kennedy for all his decades of service to us, and wish him a life full of change and, most of all, full of joy.