Meet the President's Council, a group made up of members of the president’s cabinet (senior university administrators), the academic deans (academic leadership), the university librarian, and the director of athletics and recreation.
Memorandum May 31, 2017
- AU Community
- Neil Kerwin, President
- Retirement of Mary Kennard, Vice President and General Counsel
It is with considerable regret that I announce the retirement of Mary Kennard as vice president and general counsel of American University. Mary informed me of her decision last week and she will leave office effective July 5, 2017.
President-designate Burwell expresses her appreciation for all that Mary has contributed to the university and her willingness to be available to help provide support during the transition.
Mary Kennard is a respected leader in higher education and it has been my privilege to work with her for over 20 years. Her legal skills are unsurpassed, as evidenced by her exceptional stewardship of American University's legal obligations and interests, as well as the numerous important leadership positions she has held in the most significant professional associations related to law. In addition to her work as the university's general counsel, Mary has supervised the Office of Human Resources for the past two years. During that time, she worked with the leadership of that division on multiple initiatives designed to better support our staff and infuse this critical function with both a strategic approach and a service orientation. She has found the time to be a mentor and friend to many. Personally, I have benefitted enormously from her advice, counsel, and friendship.
Mary Kennard came to AU from the University of Rhode Island in 1995 and founded American University's Office of General Counsel. Throughout her tenure here, Mary has successfully defended the university in over 150 lawsuits and administrative cases. She has served in several capacities throughout her time at AU; she was secretary of the Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2000 and from 2006 to 2013 when she implemented significant reforms to the board's operation. Mary served as acting vice president of development from 1999 to 2000 and oversaw the planning and implementation of a $200 million capital campaign. In 2014, Mary took over leadership of the Office of Human Resources and instituted a number of reforms to modernize the university's human resources function.
Mary's dedication and service to American University's campus is evident. During her tenure, Mary was instrumental in securing the financing for the Katzen Arts Center, initiated the campus beautification program, developed and led the implementation of the Washington Mentorship Program, and began the Eagle Roundtable Dinners for students. In 2014, Mary developed and implemented the 21st Century Leadership Institute to develop staff leaders.
Bethany Bridgham, currently senior associate general counsel, will serve as acting general counsel until the position is filled by President-designate Burwell.
After earning her JD at the Washington College of Law in 1988, Bethany worked in private practice for several years before enrolling at Georgetown University Law Center to pursue a Master of Laws in Taxation, with an emphasis on tax-exempt organizations. While enrolled at Georgetown, she worked in the Medical Center Counsel's Office at Georgetown Medical Center and upon graduation, accepted a position with the Washington National Tax Office at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Bethany returned to AU in 1995, joining the Office of General Counsel with responsibility for matters related to tax, finance, transactions, and employee benefits.
Bethany is a frequent lecturer at the local and national level on topics related to the law of higher education and tax-exempt organizations. In addition, Bethany has served as the university's point person for the Army Corps of Engineers project for the past 18 years. In 2016, as part of the Student Payments Working Group, Bethany was a recipient of the Staff Performance Award for Collaboration in recognition of the group's collaborative efforts and outstanding results to establish guidelines and policies to improve the student payment process. A lifelong athlete, Bethany will be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at her undergraduate alma mater, Smith College, in October 2017.
Plans for an event to honor Mary's service to AU will be announced at later date. For now, please join me in thanking Mary for all she has done for the university and her many colleagues, and in wishing her the best for the next phase in her life.