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Chico State

Fond Farewell: School of Education Faculty Dorothy Kennedy

Stars shine above Trinity Hall.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Lecturer Dorothy Kennedy, who taught in the School of Education for the last six years, passed away Monday, July 30. She was 71.

Born December 16, 1946, she earned bachelor’s degrees in sociology and Spanish from San José State University in 1969 and her master’s degree and administrative credential from Santa Clara University. She worked for more than two decades in K–12 at San Jose Unified School District, including time as a classroom teacher and principal, before retiring and moving to Chico in 2010.

But Kennedy’s passion for education persisted and she sought an opportunity to prepare the next generation of teachers through part-time work. She was hired at Chico State in 2012, where she quickly became a fixture within the School of Education.

“From the first day I met Dorothy, I was in awe of her experience as a teacher and as a principal, and her commitment and passion for education and the children we serve,” said Lynne Bercaw, former director of the School of Education. “For the six years she worked with us, she devoted herself to our students—our future teachers—to make sure they were equipped to be effective, caring, compassionate, thoughtful, excellent educators. She didn’t just talk about those attributes, she modeled them.”

Dorothy Kennedy
Kennedy was known for going above and beyond to support her students.

Kennedy was especially dedicated to ensuring students who were English-language learners had access to an equitable and accessible education, colleagues recalled. Her commitment to access was also witnessed into her “Fundamentals of Teaching Practice” course, for which she won the Exemplary Online Instruction Award. The honor recognized her for making the online class highly interactive to build a sense of community and create a dynamic learning environment for her students.

Credential advisor Andrew Nichols described Kennedy as the program’s “moral compass” and said she was a peacekeeper and incredibly well-liked among her colleagues and students.

While instructors of impacted courses do their best to accommodate adding people last minute, Kennedy never said no, Nichols said, even if it meant she would go over the class limit by 10 students. The School of Education is incredibly saddened by her unexpected passing.

“She was incredibly big-hearted,” he said. “She was a really good soul and she would bend over backwards to help any student with anything.”

The University flag will be lowered Wednesday, August 8, in her honor.