"My favorite thing is getting together with university students who receive scholarship assistance. I love to hear their stories"

As president of the William H. Hannon Foundation and chair of the Board of Trustees at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Kathleen "Kathy" Hannon Aikenhead '69, P'01 (education) focuses most of her efforts on making it possible for students to afford an education. She can't imagine a more rewarding occupation. "My favorite thing is getting together with university students who receive scholarship assistance," she says. "I love to hear their stories, and many say they would not be able to attend college if not for their scholarships from the William H. Hannon Foundation."

Aikenhead has led the foundation for 20 years. Started by her uncle, who was grateful for the help he received in affording a college education during the Great Depression, the foundation primarily funds tuition assistance and scholarships for students from preschool through college.

As newly elected chair of the Board of Trustees at Loyola Marymount, Aikenhead says the biggest challenge she and the board face is making a university education affordable. Under her leadership, Loyola Marymount, which just finished a $400 million capital campaign, is preparing to initiate another campaign to raise several hundred million dollars for financial aid.

Aikenhead is the first woman to serve as chair of the board at Loyola Marymount. She sees her election by the predominantly male board as a vote of confidence that is particularly rewarding for someone who once feared speaking up in a room full of men. "I've been the only woman on several committees, and I am naturally a quiet person," she says, "but I will never forget the advice of one male colleague, who said, 'Don't let anyone intimidate you.' And I don't."

For her "conspicuous service to the church and society," in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI named Aikenhead dame commander in the Order of St. Gregory, one of the highest honors that the Catholic Church awards to laypersons.

Aikenhead is married to David Aikenhead '68. Their son, Brian '01, also graduated from Bucknell.

Posted March 2013

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