ODU Confers Honorary Degrees on Papas, Kenefick

John Kesh Pappas


(Left to Right): ODU Interim President Ron Seiffert, Honorary Degree Recipient John (Kesh) Pappas and ODU Associate Vice President for Advancement Murley Miller.

COLUMBUS, OH – On October 1, 2009, Ohio Dominican University Interim President Ron Seiffert, along with ODU administrators, traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania on behalf of the ODU Board of Trustees, to confer honorary degrees on long-time university supporters John (Kesh) Pappas and Joseph (Joe) Kenefick (posthumously).

When speaking about the honorary degree recipients, President Seiffert said, “Kesh is an inspired business and volunteer leader. “He is committed to serving the church and community and to sharing his love of arts and culture with Ohio Dominican.” “Joe was dedicated to promoting the arts at Ohio Dominican and took sincere interest in all of the happenings on campus,” Seiffert stated.

A special ceremony was held in the chapel of Lancaster’s historic St. James Episcopal Church, followed by a celebration luncheon at The Hamilton Club. The event was attended by the clergy of St. James, who participated in the program, and by family and friends of the honorees. Sheila Killeen Schoeplein (Mrs. James), a Lancaster resident and alumna of the university, took part in the proceedings.

Pappas received a Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa for his achievement as an entrepreneur, financier, and servant leader. Kenefick received posthumously a Doctor of Humanities Honoris Causa, recognizing his life as an educator and humanitarian. Pappas accepted both his and Kenefick’s honorary degrees during the ceremony.

Kesh and Joe served on Ohio Dominican’s Board of Visitors and advised ODU presidents Sr. Mary Andrew Matesich, O.P., Ph.D. and Jack Calareso, Ph.D. They gifted a large part of their art collection to Ohio Dominican’s Wehrle Gallery and donated a significant collection of books on art and art history to Ohio Dominican’s Spangler Library.

Biography – John Pappas
Pappas was born and raised in Manhattan and completed his higher education at New York University. He built a career in banking, culminating in the co-founding of the Dollar Federal Savings Association in New York, serving as president and CEO. The culture of his bank was unique; incorporating innovative practices and management that engendered loyal, dedicated employees and contributed to the excellent growth of the bank. In 1982 the bank merged and Pappas retired at the age of 46. Soonafter, he moved permanently to Lancaster, PA.

Pappas was an active leader with the Unity Center of Practical Christianity in New York City, serving as chairman of the board for 12 years, and then turned his attention to new volunteer opportunities in Lancaster after moving to Pennsylvania. Included in his civic activities was the operation and programming of historic St. James Episcopal Church, where he held the position of senior warden and treasurer as well as many other roles within the church’s organizational structure. Through Meals on Wheels, he reached out to the homebound residents of Lancaster, serving as a driver and as president of the board. Pappas shared his knowledge and expertise with owners of small businesses through volunteer work.. He anonymously assisted youth in their educational pursuits, a commitment that continues today. In recent years he worked tirelessly to develop an annual cabaret series to benefit Lancaster’s Fulton Opera House in memory of Joseph Kenefick.

Biography – Joseph Kenefick
Kenefick was born and raised in Steubenville, Ohio, where he was taught by St. Mary of the Springs Dominican Sisters including Sister Lauranna Stoll. It was during his visit to Sister Lauranna in Columbus that Joe became acquainted with Ohio Dominican’s Wehrle Gallery, leading to his longlasting relationship with the university.

Kenefick completed his undergraduate studies at Duquesne University and earned his MA from the University of Pittsburgh and his Ph.D. from Columbia. He taught Latin and English at Shaker Heights High School in Ohio until the mid 1950s. He then moved to Scarsdale, New York, to head the English department at Scarsdale High School, one of America’s finest high schools and a model for patterns of success in public education. He retired in 1983 and moved permanently to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During his retirement, Kenefick volunteered with Radio Reading Service, broadcasting into the homes of the blind with daily news and special readings. He believed in education as the means of lifting up the less fortunate as well as preparation for informed and full lives for all people. He tutored students who needed a boost in their educational pursuits and provided anonymous financial assistance to help promising youth reach their educational goals. Kenefick passed away on October 20, 2007.