Scholarship Support: Bob Kennis ’77
For the past 30 years, Bob Kennis ’77 has been a regular donor to UC Davis School of Law. Recently, he decided to take his support to a new level and create the Kennis Family Scholarship for King Hall students who are first-generation, low-income, or from underserved communities.
“I thought I owed a lot to my law school after I graduated,” said Kennis, who is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Marcus & Millichap Company. “I have very fond memories, and obviously having a law degree has been critical to my career. Giving back to your university is important, and I was happy to be able to do something for students who are there now.”
Kennis arrived a King Hall as a newly minted UC Santa Barbara graduate with “no life experience at all” and very little notion of what he was getting into as a law student, he said.
“No one in my family had been to college, and no one was in law,” said Kennis. “I was brand new to the legal environment. I didn’t have anyone to advise me, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was dependent on the professors and administrators to guide me, so it turned out to be a wise decision to go to Davis.”
At King Hall, Kennis found a supportive, collegial environment that stood in stark contrast to the competitive atmosphere of most top law schools of the era. “I really enjoyed my classmates,” he said. “It was a supportive environment, with people from all walks of life, and it was a good place for me. If I had gone to the prototypical, highly competitive law school, I’m not sure what would’ve happened.”
At King Hall, Kennis found a mentor of sorts in Professor Richard Wydick. “For whatever unknown reason, he took a liking to me,” Kennis said. “He offered to help, and took the time to share his perspective on what it was like to practice law.”
Wydick also wrote a letter of recommendation that helped to launch Kennis on a successful career, much of which has been in real estate law. Since 2001, he has been with Marcus and Millichap. “Our company is a diversified real estate company. We build single family and multi-family communities, we own diversified real estate assets, and we are involved in associated activities, including taking public real estate investment Brokerage Company,” Kennis said. “I’m not serving as a lawyer 24-7. I’m involved in a variety of non-legal business decisions, which varies the day and makes it more meaningful for me.”
Kennis said “the time was right” for him up his level of support for King Hall and create a scholarship. “I’m getting older,” he said. “My younger son is a Division 1 student-athlete in the Ivy League, and we’re expected to give there. I started thinking, ‘This is a little crazy. I should be giving more to my law school, too.’”
Being able to target the scholarship to benefit low-income, first-generation, and under-represented students made the gift more meaningful, Kennis said. “My wife and I wanted the scholarship to go where we thought it would do the most good. We’re proud to be able to offer support for students who can benefit from a little extra help.”