Posted Aug. 25, 2020
By Hannah Bonini, senior advertising major. Reprinted from InterCom
For alumni Jack Bryan and Lou Kennedy, helping those who have supported them has been standard operating procedure. They are valued donors to the CIC through time, talent and treasure. Here, they share the reasons why they continue to support the college.
Lou Kennedy, '84
When Lou Kennedy graduated with a degree in journalism, she never imagined herself the CEO of any company, much less a major pharmaceutical corporation. As with most of life’s plans, it happened one step at a time.
Kennedy started working for Nephron Pharmaceuticals in 2001 as part of its national salesforce. In 2007 she took over as CEO. “I’ve always been very competitive and want to win at everything I do,” she says. “I don’t believe in failure and refuse to fall behind.”
As the CEO of Nephron during the coronavirus pandemic, Kennedy says she has learned a lot about communication. Keeping up with orders has proven to be one of the biggest challenges, but finding ways to communicate hasn’t been easy either. “This pandemic has proven there are lots of ways to effectively communicate via the internet, and if you can’t keep up, you’ll be left behind,” she says. “With or without a pandemic the internet is forcing us to accept new ways of communication.”
The belief in being a good communicator is nothing new to Kennedy. She greatly values good communication skills and worries that younger generations potentially lack these skills due to a dependence on texting and technology. She says this dependency contributes to a discrepancy between the ways generations connect.
She also believes there is something to be said for older generations learning to acclimate to newer modes of communication. “Everyone can always improve and broaden their communication skills,” she says.
Looking ahead, Kennedy hopes to expand the portfolio at Nephron to include a wide array of generics, put in a plan for retirement that her employees can take over and continue contributing to the community around her.
She has been supporting schools and educators since college. Kennedy believes every child should have the best education possible and is very enthusiastic about having internet capabilities and connectivity everywhere for that reason. The favorite part of her job? Hiring young people and watching them blossom.
Jack Bryan, '74, '86
One of the first creatures upstate New York native Jack Bryan encountered when he arrived in South Carolina was an earth-shatteringly large cockroach — even to a New Yorker. It didn’t scare him away and 47 years later, he’s still in South Carolina, contributing to the state in ways large and small.
Bryan was enticed by the reputation of South Carolina’s library program but it was an adjustment. He got used to the occasional palmetto bug, but had second thoughts about staying in school. His faculty advisor convinced him to give it a shot a little longer. One day, a professor handed back an assignment and told him he could do better and something clicked. From that moment on, he realized college is a luxury and he never took it for granted again, putting his whole head and heart into everything he did. Today, Bryan encourages everyone to believe in themselves but not forget who helped along way. And he’s been busy.
During the summer of 1970, before heading back to college, Bryan rode his motorcycle to Mississippi to meet a family he had been financially supporting through the church. When he got there, their tiny home had no bathroom or running water, but this did not hinder the connection he felt with them and their son, who was about his age. Bryan looks back on this as one of the most influential experiences of his early adult life. “I am grateful to those who helped me along the way and always want to provide the same help for others,” he says.
Bryan remembers applying for a job at the attorney general’s office and thinking he didn’t have a chance. But, the dean recommended him for the job and it was offered to him. He supervised the establishment of the library during ’74 and then took over administration. His very specific plan to go back to New York was abandoned and he stayed through four different attorneys general administrations and oversaw a complete shift in the storage/organization of information when computers were introduced.
He’s also been involved with the School of Information Science since he was a student and has been a donor ever since graduation. “I believe in sharing and living by the golden rule,” he says. Bryan created two scholarships in 1998, including the Clara and John Bryan Scholarship, recognizing his late parents’ contributions to his life.
In 2012, he received the Outstanding Alumni award and in 2014 he gave the hooding address at graduation. Most recently, he has been involved in the planning of the school’s 50th anniversary and just supported the publishing of The Lady of Cofitachequi. The children’s book tells one story of South Carolina’s Native American history for the South Carolina Center for Community Literacy and the USC Press.