UTC Poetry program receives $1 million endowment

Image: WTVC

Poetry at UTC has received a major present.

The Kennedy Foundation, Inc. has pledged $1 million to the University of Chattanooga Foundation to benefit of students studying poetry at UTC. The university says the money will be used to pay for scholarships as well as endow a professorship to teach poetry.

Jim D. Kennedy Jr., as president of the foundation, made the donation in honor of his late wife, Dorothy Hellerstedt Kennedy, a UTC graduate and active poet.

“She learned at an early age the magic of the written word. She knew how a well-turned phrase or line of verse could bring happiness or reflection, sadness or laughter,” her husband said.

Andrew McCarthy, head of the English department, says the gift is “utterly transformative.”

“It will allow us to do all sorts of things that we only ever dreamed of,” he says. “It can draw attention to what we’re doing at UTC.”

The scholarships, meanwhile, will make it easier to recruit new students, he says. “Creative writing is the thing that students love; they love to study English and write poetry.”

After he and Dorothy moved to Chattanooga, Kennedy said, she began writing poetry “as a way to express her thoughts and experiences. Although she rarely shared her poetry with others, she expressed in many of her works a deeper meaning by often telling a story within a story. In her last years, she was able to reach outside of her failing health to express deeper thoughts with an economy of words and wisdom.

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