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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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Throwback Thursday: the other Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy spoke at GW graduation in 1961, just months into his presidency and about 10 years after his wife, the former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, received her degree from GW. Photo courtesy of GW Special Collections Research Center.
President Kennedy attending the ceremony to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. Photo courtesy of GW Special Collections Research Center.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ruby Lee.

Many GW students see alumna Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as the main tie between the Kennedy family and GW. There is, after all, a dorm named after her with an oddly pixelated portrait of the first lady in the lobby.

Most are unaware that John F. Kennedy also accepted a degree from GW. It was honorary, but hey, that still counts.

Kennedy graced GW’s graduation stage in 1961, only months into his presidency, to receive the honorary doctorate of law.

In his acceptance speech, Kennedy praised the University’s ties to the nation’s founding father, of course, and hailed the importance of universities in keeping Communists at bay.

“I don’t think that there has ever been a time when we have had greater need for those qualities which a university produces,” he told a crowd of thousands. “It is the job of schools and colleges such as this to provide the men and women who will with their sense of discipline and purpose and understanding contribute to the maintenance of free societies here and around the world.

Kennedy’s brother, former Sen. Edward Kennedy was also floated in 2009 as a possible candidate for an honorary degree.

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