Mark Kennedy was named the 12th President of the University of North Dakota by the State Board of Higher Education on March 15, 2016. His term began on July 1, 2016, succeeding Interim President Ed Schafer and President Robert Kelley, who retired on January 14, 2016.
Kennedy came to UND from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., where since 2012 he was Director of the Graduate School of Political Management and Professor. His teaching and research addressed issues of how organizations can engage governments and societies around the world.
A native of Benson, Minnesota, Kennedy earned a B.S. degree at St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, and an MBA with distinction at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He then served as an executive with several firms, including Pillsbury, and today’s Macy’s.
From 2001 to 2007, Kennedy served in the U.S. House of Representatives, first for Minnesota’s Second District and then for its Sixth District. He served on the Financial Services, Transportation and Agriculture Committees, and established a reputation for bipartisanship. Kennedy was then appointed to the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations, serving under both Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.
From 2007 to 2010, Kennedy served as the Global Retail Business Development Lead for Accenture, a global management, consulting and technology firm. From 2010 to 2013, he lectured and led research projects at the University of Pennsylvania, Notre Dame, the London Business School and others, and served as an Executive in Residence at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School.
Kennedy is the founder of the Economic Club of Minnesota and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London. He founded the Mark Kennedy Frontiers of Freedom Lecture Series at St. John’s University.
In his book from Columbia Business School Press titled Shapeholders - Business Success in the Age of Activism, Kennedy updates the rules for business engagement with society reflecting the rise of activism and expanded political involvement in commercial affairs. In it, he introduces the concept of “shapeholders” to the field of business strategy. A shapeholder is a political, regulatory, media or activist actor with no stake in an organization’s success, but great ability to shape its opportunities and risks.
Kennedy is the third generation of his family to live in North Dakota. His grandmother helped homestead outside Tioga in the early 1900s, and his parents lived in Golva and Hunter, during which time his older sister was born in Fargo.
First Lady Debbie Kennedy is a native of Hawley, Minnesota. They met at the Minnesota State Fair as high school 4-H ambassadors. Debbie Kennedy graduated from North Dakota State University with a double major in home economics and textile and clothing, and from George Washington University with a master’s degree in costume design. They have four adult children.