Brendan B. Kelly, Ph.D. currently serves as the University of West Georgia’s eighth president. Dr. Kelly was named UWG president in December 2019 through a nation-wide presidential search process.

Dr. Kelly
Brendan B. Kelly, Ph.D.

Prior to joining UWG, Dr. Kelly served as a chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate, the largest regional comprehensive university in the USC system. He was also appointed in April 2019 as interim president of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.

As the head of the USC Upstate, Dr. Kelly completed the UP. Together: USC Strategic Plan 2018-2023, secured increased state funding, and led the creation of a university-wide integrated brand platform. He also oversaw a reorganization of the institution’s Academic Affairs division and led the development and implementation of seven high-demand academic programs at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels.

During his tenure as chancellor, USC Upstate attained the highest levels of enrollment in the history of the institution and substantially increased fundraising for the institution’s endowment and annual fund. 

Before becoming chancellor of USC Upstate, Dr. Kelly served as vice president of university advancement, foundation president and chief executive officer of the historic trust at the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola, Florida, from 2013-17.

Dr. Kelly is a practiced academic leader, previously serving as the director of UWF’s School of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts, and chair of the Department of Communication Arts. He began at UWF in 2004 as assistant professor and the department’s director of forensics. Kelly began his academic career in 2000 at Eastern Michigan University, where he was assistant director of forensics and a lecturer in the Communication and Theatre Arts Department.

Kelly earned both a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations and a master’s degree in communication from Eastern Michigan University. He earned his doctorate in rhetoric and political communication from Wayne State University.

Honors and Awards

  • UWF Distinguished Teaching Award
  • National Forensic Association (NFA) Hall of Fame inductee
  • NFA Eddie Myers Distinguished Service Award
  • Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Young Alumnus Award
  • EMU Forensics Hall of Fame inductee
  • University of West Florida Faculty Excellence Award in Student Affairs
  • Patriotic Employer by the U.S. Department of Defense