NC State University Watauga Medal Winner Bob Kennel Remarks

NC State University Watauga Medal Winner Bob Kennel Remarks


Ordered to Robert P. Kennel by the Board of
Trustees, the administration and the faculty of NC State University in recognition of notable
and distinguished contributions to the advancement of the university. For his current service
on the NC State Athletics Hall of Fame Election Committee. For his service as an inaugural
president of the NC State Parents� Association and former president of the Alumni Association
Board of Directors and the capital area NC State Alumni Club. For his years of service
as Athletics Council representative to the Alumni Association Board of Directors and
as a member of the Alumni Association Campaign for Excellence Committee, the Friends of the
Library Board, Coalition 2000, the University Development Coalition and the Park Scholars
Selection Committee. For his service as chair of the Class of 1958 Reunion Committee, his
leadership as a Lonnie Poole Golf Course charter partner and his eighteen years of service
as executive director of the Council of UNC Alumni Association Presidents. For his contributions
as a member of the C.W. Dabney Lifetime Giving Society, a lifetime member of the NC State
Alumni Association and a member of Friends of the Library. For his service as a recipient
of the Ronnie Shavelick Award and for his five decades of commitment to the university
and support of the Case Academic Center, Park Alumni Center and the James B. Hunt Library,
for his fundraising efforts on behalf of the Beyond Academic Support of Excellence Initiative
and for his financial contributions establishing the Robert and Elaine Kennel Scholarship for
baseball and the Robert P. and Elaine L. Kennel Endowment in the John T. Caldwell Alumni Scholarship
and Caldwell Fellows Program, and for his undergraduate contributions in baseball, basketball
and football � it�s amazing, and while he�s a nuclear engineering student under
five coaches that are now in the NC State�s Sports Hall of Fame and the North Carolina
Sports Hall of Fame � and for his contributions to the community, to the state of North Carolina
and to society at large, congratulations. President Ross and Chair Mulkey, and Chancellor
Woodson, ladies and gentlemen, how to speak a lifetime of love into several minutes. Three
simple thoughts plus a university basketball, my appreciation, my family, my heroes. As
the first person in my family to attend college, I am appreciative to the Alumni Association
for their original Talent for Service Scholarship, the forerunner of the Caldwell and the Park
Scholarships, that let me come to State as well as to participate in a rainbow of opportunities.
Sixty years ago, like Jim Goodnight, I also had a decision to make about where to go to
college. But my response won�t make WRAL News. There are days that I feel like I was
in the first class 125 years ago. There�s other days that I experience the curse of
having a 27-year-old mind trapped in a 77-year-old body. But tonight with this wonderful Watauga
Medal, it feels like God�s grace. Grace is something definitely not deserved, but
very much appreciated. All of my immediate family are here tonight.
They are special. And though I stand on my deceased parents� shoulders, these are the
people that I dare not disappoint: my wife Elaine, and you can raise your hand so that
people know who you are. We will celebrate our 50 years of marriage in July. You only
have to know any one of our four children to understand how truly magnificent she is,
as well as putting up with me. I told Elliott Avent tonight that she was a better catch
than my New Bern Bear buddy Brett Williams, center fielder, has all been all over YouTube
this past week. Our eldest daughter, she doesn�t like me
to say that, but she is, Phyllis Kennel, is a UNCG graduate and a Virginia Tech postgraduate
who currently serves as the director of research operations for the Duke University School
of Nursing. Our second daughter, Dr. Susan Kennel Bull,
is an NC State veterinarian, practicing in Waynesville and having served on the North
Carolina Veterinary Board. Her husband, Adam Bull, who is not here tonight, is an NC State
alumnus who became a lawyer with a law practice in Asheville.
Our son Phillip Kennel, Phil Kennel, is an NC State Design School graduate working in
the triangle with BAI Architects. And his wife Kathy Kennel, because she�s with her
two kids on the opposite side of town tonight, could not be here. Kathy many of you already
know as a State grad and her development work with Ag and Life Sciences.
Our youngest daughter, Robin Kennel Miller, is an Appalachian State grad in sports medicine,
a Texas postgrad in kinesiology, currently serving as a music professional here in the
Triangle. Her husband, Dr. Jeff Miller, is with us tonight. He�s done very good research
on stem cell migration here at NC State with everybody still waiting on another grant.
And my much younger sister, much younger sister � 12 years, to be exact � she�s a UNCG
graduate who has just retired from 40 years of teaching and recently was inducted into
the Gymnastics Hall of Fame in Atlanta as the elected director of all gymnastics, North
Carolina USA gymnastics, for the past 28 years. They haven�t caught on to her yet. I�m
proud of these people in so many different ways, and that includes the fact that all
these kids, they�re all alumni of UNC system schools, President Ross. All paid out-of-state
tuition, all graduated on time, and all ended up with advanced degrees. But more importantly,
there are six grandchildren here in North Carolina that are better than all of us put
together. Several years ago I wrote a book. It�s a
red-colored book. Some of you have seen it � it�s not published � about five generations
of my family through the 20th century. In the back of that book there are 20 appendices
about things that I really wanted to write about. Appendix 18 is on heroes, something
that every one of us need, heroes. And I wrote about heroes in various walks of life as I
grew up and as I grew older, such as in government, Jim Hunt, and education, Bill Friday, in the
military, Hugh Shelton, in sports, Coach Earl Edwards, in business, Jim Goodnight, plus
many friends such as the departed Jim Graham and Bryce Younce. Can you imagine my thrill
in being inducted into the Watauga Society with the two outstanding Tom-Toms tonight,
as well as so many good friends here and all those named heroes coming straight out of
the pages of my book. It is exciting. It is also truly humbling.
One last thought. I�m clearly red and white for life, but I�ve also loved the UNC system,
with many alumni experiences across all 16 universities. The university basketball, we
had a picture of it in there, but it is, it is colorful, but it is the nexus of academics
and athletics as only can happen in North Carolina. Twenty years ago I presented the
first one of these basketballs to Governor Jim Hunt in his support for the 1993 university
bond issue. And since that time, this education basketball has been presented to the last
seven governors of North Carolina, five UNC presidents, a whole bunch of Board of Governors
chairs, a bunch of other education programs, and four NC State chancellors. And tonight
I would like to formally present this university basketball to Chancellor Randy Woodson.
There is a nice trophy base that goes under that and reads, �To Chancellor Randy Woodson.
Honored by the Council of UNC Alumni Association Presidents,� and our Alumni Council president
Dwight Pearson, Dr. Dwight Pearson, I might add, from NC State; but he is on the UNC-Pembroke
Board of Trustees. And he said to tell you, �You�re doing good across the board, not
just at NC State.� And we need it. We all need it.
So, God bless you, Chancellor Woodson. God bless NC State for the next 125 years. And
for some of you out there who wrote support letters for the committee that did the choosing,
for the chancellor, for the Board of Trustees, for this wonderful Watauga Award, thank you
very much.

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