A $2 million gift from the Elizabeth E. Kennedy Fund gives a huge boost to the renovation of Hill Auditorium. The gift will support the construction and furnishing of the lower lobby of the campus landmark which will be named the Elizabeth E. Kennedy Lobby. The project will begin in May 2002 and will take 18 months to complete.
The family interest in the University extends back through several generations. Elizabeth Kennedys parents, Harry Boyd Earhart and his wife Carrie Beal Earhart, were Ann Arbor philanthropists who actively supported the University. H.B. Earhart was made an Honorary Alumnus in 1932. Elizabeth Earhart, their daughter, attended the University during her junior year of college and was involved in University activities while on campus. After her marriage to James A. Kennedy, a 1936 U-M Law graduate, they established residence in Ann Arbor and began attending the concert series at Hill Auditorium. That steady concert attendance continues today, a tradition carried on by their two sons, David and Jim.
The EEK Fund was established in 1954 by Elizabeth Kennedy and is devoted to improving the human condition throughout the state of Michigan, providing funds for education, health issues and the environment. Over the years, the University has benefited on a number of fronts, such as the Clements Library, The Bentley Historical Library, the Gerald R. Ford Library, as well as the Center for the Education of Women, the Health System and the University Musical Society (UMS). Mrs. Kennedy served as President of the EEK Fund until stepping down in 1993.
In 1988, when the May Festival celebrated the 75th anniversary of Hill Auditorium, Elizabeth Kennedy and her sister, Louise Raphael, joined other donors in providing substantial support for the Festival, making it the only time the artists fees were underwritten entirely by private donations. She continued her strong support of UMS throughout her active years with the EEK Fund.
In commemoration of her long-time love of music and the opportunity to enjoy world-class performances in Ann Arbor, the Board of Trustees of the Elizabeth E. Kennedy Fund felt that a major gift to assist the renovation of Hill Auditorium would be an appropriate tribute to the woman whose vision and action has made many things possible. The creation and naming of the lower lobby will serve as a reminder to all those who benefit from her generosity.