Kennedy studied at the Ontario College of Art, the University at Buffalo and the University of Ohio. In 1967, at the age of 32, he was appointed president of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the youngest ever to serve in that position. He was president of the college for 23 years. He has exhibited extensively, including a major show at the National Gallery of Canada in 2000. He was awarded the Portia White Prize by the Arts Council of Nova Scotia in 2000, and in 2004 the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts. In selecting Kennedy for the Governor General's Awards, an independent peer jury called him "one of the most distinguished figures in Canadian art". Not only has he produced a body of conceptual painting that is recognized internationally, he was also instrumental in establishing an international reputation for the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, of which he was the innovative head for 23 years. In addition, in 2004 Kennedy was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson for his contributions as an administrator, educator and artist, enriching Canada's cultural legacy.