Graduation Season Brings Surprise Diploma Delivery To Kennedy Family

The late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy graduated from the University of Virginia’s law school 55 years ago. But he skipped his graduation ceremony to work on his brother John’s presidential campaign — and never picked up his diploma.

The university held onto it. This weekend, his great nephew, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III gave a commencement speech at UVA. He says, the night before at dinner, the dean told him, “We still have the degree. Can you take it?”

“I was stunned,” Kennedy said. “I was very very moved, hadn’t expected it or anticipated it. It was a surprise. I, like most people, had assumed that he had gotten his diploma.”

Kennedy says he plans to give the diploma to his great uncle’s widow, Vicki, for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston.