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Eunice Kennedy Shriver remembered

By Leslie Hast
January 2010

When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961 and memorably invoked, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver took the message to heart. Vanderbilt University is but one of the many institutions to benefit from her altruistic efforts.

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development is a Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (EKS IDDRC). It is dedicated to improving the quality of life of persons with disorders of thinking, learning, perception, communication, mood and emotion caused by disruption of typical development.

The Center now has 75 investigators doing groundbreaking research, a family outreach center providing resources and support and training programs to share the latest innovations.

Shriver, who died Aug. 11, 2009, at age 88, was a member of Vanderbilt’s Nicholas Hobbs Society and the Canby Robinson Society.

Shriver, along with her mother, Rose Kennedy, and husband, Sargent Shriver, attended the Convocation marking the Center’s founding on May 29, 1965. The Shrivers returned in 1996 to celebrate the Center’s 30th anniversary, and Mrs. Shriver made remarks praising its work.

“The John F. Kennedy Center at Peabody College has been unique among the 12 original Mental Retardation Research Centers in its emphasis on the behavioral, social, and educational sciences, especially special education, and in its training of young researchers in the behavioral sciences for careers in mental retardation research, a program dating back to 1955,” she said. “I congratulate the Kennedy Center for its accomplishments. I am certain that the next 30 years will be equally productive and impressive.”

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