Artist and Murray State University alumnus Don Kennedy (pictured on left) gifted many of his paintings to various campus buildings through a unique selection event held at Waterfield Library on May 3.
Artist and Murray State University alumnus Don Kennedy (pictured on left) gifted many of his paintings to various campus buildings through a unique selection event held at Waterfield Library on May 3.

College of Education and Human Services alumnus Don Kennedy donated paintings to specific campus locations via a unique selection process in Waterfield Library on May 3. Kennedy, who has received more than 100 awards for his paintings, has been a generous donor of his artwork to Murray State University for years.

“This past Tuesday, we celebrated the gifts and talents of our generous alumnus, Don Kennedy. Not only did he gift this beautiful work to our University, but he spent the day connecting with our students and University community, sharing his talent and joyful stories about his time on campus in the 1950s as he studied history and education,” said Tina Bernot, Interim Executive Director of Development.
Kennedy’s paintings, each of which is appraised from $2,200 to $2,800, were on view from 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. this past Tuesday. During that time, students, faculty and staff were invited to vote on the painting they wished to hang in their building of choice. At 3 p.m., representatives from each of the pre-determined locations—which included Waterfield Library, Winslow Dining Hall, Oakhurst, the Hutson School of Agriculture, Alexander Hall, Carr Health, the Sid Easley Alumni Center and the Breathitt Veterinary Center—attended a selection reception.
Kennedy originally planned to donate 11 of the 14 paintings on display. However, after he received a personal note from Dr. Debbie Reed, director at the Breathitt Veterinary Center, he decided to gift an additional painting to her location.
“When I saw the announcement that students were to help choose locations for paintings, I was intrigued. I am an art lover, as are many other BVC staff members. The paintings that were shown on the announcements were beautiful,” said Reed. “Our new facility is scheduled to be completed in September, and I am so excited to find a location for the painting.”
Kennedy creates landscapes of places he has visited throughout his lifetime, and he paints the scenes from memory. He said he enjoys donating the paintings as a way to give back to Murray State, a school that not only offered him quality academics but also allowed him to set his own pace and learn a lot about himself.
“Murray State makes a difference in people,” said Kennedy.
His degrees from Murray State include a bachelor’s in history and physical education in 1956 and a master’s in education administration in 1958. He pursued a career in education as a teacher and guidance director for the public school system in Florida. However, painting has always been a part of his life, and he retired from teaching in the late 1980s in order to focus more on his art.
Since 2006, charitable causes have played a major factor in Kennedy’s work. The Ormond Beach, Fla. resident has donated paintings to Florida libraries as well as a local church that works to help the homeless. When he sells a painting, he gives half the proceeds to the buyer’s charity of choice.
The paintings he gifted this week will join a variety of his paintings that have been on permanent display across campus at Sparks Hall, the Sid Easley Alumni Center, the Lowry Center, Waterfield Library, Heritage Hall and various residential colleges.
“It is wonderful to see his joy in giving and also to know that our University will appreciate these colorful paintings for years to come,” said Bernot.
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