» Donald P. Kennedy Bust

"A knowledge of the law empowers and guides those who
shape and direct all areas of business and government.
The purpose of the Chapman University School of Law is to
train and inspire students to become competent and ethical
custodians of that knowledge."
- Donald P. Kennedy

Donald P. Kennedy (1918–2012)

A global businessman, a veteran of World War II and a golfer with nine career hole-in-ones, Donald P. Kennedy was a man of intellect, endurance and resolve. 

Donald was a figure of immeasurable consequence within Orange County. The entire area — its culture, art, and of course, business — was impacted by him and is recognized across the nation, even internationally, in large part because of him, his undeniable business acumen and overwhelming generosity. 

The rise of Orange County’s reputation and prominence in the United States is undoubtedly tied to the rise of the family firm that Donald Kennedy joined in 1948: Orange County Title, which is now known as First American Financial.

When he joined the firm founded by his grandfather, it had only one office in Santa Ana, California, and served the county in which it was established. Though Orange County Title was well-known within Orange County, having been one of the first abstract companies in California to qualify to issue policies of title insurance, Donald recognized it would need to expand beyond the borders of the county to survive. With his help, the company began to move in that direction, changing its local name to First American and successfully operating in four states by the time Donald became president in 1963. 

Under Donald’s leadership, First American expanded rapidly. Within the first 20 years of his presidency, the company began serving every region in the United States. By the end of the 1980s, the company crossed into international territory: Canada. Its success in Canada led to the emergence of offices across the globe. In fact, First American has the distinction of being the first title insurance provider in Mexico, Korea and Hong Kong.

The end result was First American became a FORTUNE® 500 company with hundreds of offices around the world and a revenue of more than $8 billion in 2006. Because of Donald, countless people and businesses have flourished, creating a ripple effect in communities across the globe.

As the birthplace of the company, Orange County received its fair share of distinction as First American grew. However, to suggest that Donald P. Kennedy only enhanced the county’s reputation via the name of his business would be a grave mistake. He and his wife, Dorothy, were incredible philanthropists and touched countless areas and lives within the county, helping build and boost Orange County’s reputation as a center of culture, commerce, the arts and so much more.

Generous with both his time and money, Donald was heavily involved with Chapman University, was a past chairman of the Orange County Business Committee for the Arts and of Bowers Museum of Cultural Art and served on the board of the South Coast Repertory, among others.

He wanted to see Orange County grow in every sector, and his contributions, both as a businessman and philanthropist, were recognized by numerous groups throughout the county and state. He was named “Title Person of the Year” by the California Land Title Association in 1986. Three years later, he was inducted into the California Building Industry Hall of Fame for his endeavors within the building industry. University of California, Irvine awarded him the Real Estate Sumigarden Award in 1995, and then the Orange Coast Magazine named him “Man of the Century” in 1999, the same year that Chapman University named the Donald P. Kennedy Hall, the new home of the university’s law school.

The turn of the century saw many more distinctions bestowed upon Donald. He received the Paul Harris Fellow Community Recognition Award for Business and Professions from the Rotary Club of Orange, became the first recipient of the Exemplary Leadership Award presented by the Orange County Business Committee for the Arts, and was honored by the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art with the dedication of the Dorothy and Donald Kennedy wing.

It is without a doubt that Donald P. Kennedy was a catalyst for transformation around the world. His character was peerless, and as someone deeply committed to Orange County, he is deserving of a bust in his likeness at Chapman University, one of the focal points of his generosity.

Back to full collections


Collection of Historical Figures Map

View the map locations of the Collection of Historical Figures statues located throughout the Chapman campuses.

Donald P. Kennedy bust


Kennedy Hall, Fowler School of Law

Campus Location
Orange Campus