Remembering Dean Emeritus Robert Kennedy

Robert Kennedy
Robert Kennedy, Dean Emeritus

It is with sadness that the Faculty of Forestry announces the passing of Dean Emeritus Robert (Bob) Kennedy, UBC alumnus and professor. Dean Kennedy passed away peacefully at age 87 in the early hours of June 17, 2019, surrounded by family.

Dean Kennedy was a distinguished wood scientist who combined both a university career researching forest products with research in wood behaviour for industry. His association with the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Faculty of Forestry began following his graduation from the State University of New York where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1953. While at UBC, he was awarded the degree of Master of Forestry in 1955 and served as an instructor between 1955 – 1961.

After completing a PhD at Yale University (1962), Dean Kennedy was at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto from 1962 until 1966. He then returned to British Columbia to join the federal government’s Western Forest Products Laboratory (now FPInnovations), on the UBC campus. There, he served as the Laboratory Director from 1975 to 1979 where he was primarily responsible for technology transfer and client relationships. His achievements were notable including laboratory developments that were translated to industrial uses and strengthened client relations from initiatives such as a series of industrial advisory committees.

Dr Kennedy returned to UBC Forestry in 1979 to teach wood anatomy and properties, wood chemistry, timber mechanics and microtechnique. He was appointed Dean of the Faculty serving from 1983 until his retirement in 1991.

Dean Kennedy led a remarkable career which garnered recognition and accolades. In 1971, he was named a fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science. He was active in a wide range of national and international professional and forest-industry organizations, including the Forest Products Research Society, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, the Canadian Forestry Association and the Canadian Institute of Forestry. Until his appointment as Dean of Forestry in 1983, he was one of only two members of the Faculty of Forestry who served on the UBC Senate. Dean Kennedy also served as Vice-Chairman of the BC Forest Resources Commission and as President of the International Academy of Wood Science.

After his retirement, he remained connected with the Faculty as Dean Emeritus, part of the Dean’s Circle as an informal advisor to the Faculty, and a philanthropist. In particular, he was a passionate mentor and supporter of students and, with his wife, Averil, established the Robert and Averil Kennedy Forestry Graduate Scholarship to increase awareness of forestry and the forest industry in the Canadian context. Along with his three children and three grandchildren, he is survived by Averil who was also active in the UBC community. Dean Kennedy’s wish is that any donations on his behalf be made to the Scholarship at

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