University Libraries' Tamara Kennelly honored with emerita status
October 6, 2020
Tamara Kennelly, associate professor in the Special Collections and University Archives Department of the University Libraries at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of associate professor emerita by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
The emerita title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board receive a copy of the resolution and a certificate of appreciation.
A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1993, Kennelly made significant contributions by building Special Collections and University Archives to better document the history of the university, ranging from the work of presidents to the activities of student groups, and helped develop its programs, services, and overall vision. She created a significant number of online resources, such as exhibits and timelines, to promote access and a more inclusive historical record of the university.
Among her many accomplishments, Kennelly expanded collection efforts to better document the undocumented and underdocumented communities, individuals, and events that are part of Virginia Tech’s history. She led a large team of volunteers on a fast-moving effort to collect, organize, and provide access to the April 16, 2007, Condolence Archives Collection, which has become one of the University Libraries’ signature collections of unique materials.
Kennelly also collected and created extensive oral collections from communities of color, including the Brush Mountain Oral History Project, and she led the Kentland Slave Cemetery Marker Project to better understand the relationship between the site’s complex history and residents in the nearby community of Wake Forest.
Throughout her career, Kennelly responded to thousands of reference requests from researchers, administrators, faculty, students, and community members who sought to better understand the history of Virginia Tech and cultivated decades-long relationships with campus and community partners to ensure that historical ties are not severed.
During her tenure at Virginia Tech, Kennelly elevated the level of scholarship, professional engagement, and university service for library faculty. She wrote groundbreaking articles and chapters on archival and historical topics, including the definitive history of the desegregation experience of Irving Linwood Peddrew III, the first African American undergraduate student at Virginia Tech.
Kennelly has served as an expert on collections of tragedy and recovery for archival colleagues. She has presented before local, state, national, and international audiences on the challenges of collecting and managing oral history collections.
At Virginia Tech, her work has been recognized with multiple awards, including the 2015 University Libraries Diversity Award, a documenting diversity grant from the Office of Multicultural Affairs from 2000 to 2002, and the Award for Outstanding Service from the Women’s Center in 2000. She received creative writing grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1997 and again in 1983.
Kennelly received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Illinois, a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa, and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Kentucky.