Mary E. Kennard

Senior Consultant

Dr. Mary E. Kennard served for 23 years as the Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for American University in Washington, DC. She has over 40 years of experience in university administration and legal affairs. Dr. Kennard has served as a senior administrator at both public and private colleges and universities. In addition, Dr. Kennard has served as the Chief Development Officer for both the University of Rhode Island and American University, planning and kicking off two successful capital campaigns. Dr. Kennard also served as the head of the Human Resources departments at AU and URI. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at the University of Pittsburgh – College of General Studies, the University of Rhode Island – College of Business Administration, and the Washington College of Law at American University.

Dr. Kennard is a frequent lecturer at national conferences on law, higher education administration, and board governance. She co-anchored and produced a Telly Award-winning video in conjunction with the College and University Personnel Association (CUPA-HR). Dr. Kennard also coauthored a Legal Primer for Board Operations published by the Association of Governing Boards.

Dr. Kennard is a past Commissioner for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. She also served on the Board of Directors of the National Student Clearinghouse, as well as a director of its Research Board. She has served on the Boston University, Metropolitan College Dean’s Advisory Council, the Advisory Board of the Georgetown University Law Center – Corporate Counsel Institute and was a 15-year member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Trust Company, (NASDAQ: Wash), the oldest community bank in the United States (founded in 1800).

Dr. Kennard received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Rhode Island in recognition of her commitment to diversity in US higher education. She was the first African American Vice President of the University of Rhode Island, and the first African American to serve as legal counsel for an entire state system of higher education in the United States. She was honored by Boston University with its Alumni Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Kennard attended Boston University and received her undergraduate degree in applied science. After earning her Juris Doctorate from Temple University, Beasley School of Law, and Master of Laws in international and comparative law from The George Washington University, National Law Center, she served as counsel to the University of Pittsburgh, Howard University, the University of Rhode Island, the Community College of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island College, before joining American University as Vice President, General Counsel and Board Secretary.

  • Education
  • Board/Governance
  • Diversity & Inclusion