by Colton Campbell

Brendan and Tressa Kelly stand in front of Wolf statueUPDATE: Dr. Kelly was named UWG’s president on Monday, Dec. 23, 2019.

Dr. Brendan Kelly, recently named the finalist for the University of West Georgia presidency, made his first official visit to the university’s campus in Carrollton Thursday.

During several gatherings with UWG students, faculty, staff, foundation board members and other advisory groups, Kelly shared his impression of and vision for the institution.

Board of Regents (BOR) Chairman Don L. Waters and University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Steve Wrigley announced Kelly as the finalist in a release on Monday. The BOR will take action on the finalist for the next UWG president at a future board meeting.

“It is an honor to be considered for this presidency, and we are thrilled to be here on campus today,” said Kelly, who was joined by his wife, Dr. Tressa Kelly, for the visit. “The work this university has done over the last several years has been truly extraordinary. There’s an energy you can feel in the community and an eagerness to create opportunities for students.”

UWG’s interim president, Dr. Stuart Rayfield, said she looks forward to working with Kelly in the near future to create a smooth transition between leadership, if confirmed.

“I am excited about Dr. Kelly’s proven experience in fostering strong ties within the community, something West Georgia does exceedingly well,” Rayfield said. “I’m grateful to the Presidential Search and Screen Committee for its diligent evaluation of the candidates, and I truly believe we have found the perfect person to lead UWG into its next chapter.”

In addition to the meetings on campus Thursday, Kelly also enjoyed a tour of campus.

“The foundation of this university – the people here and the institution’s history – is very strong, and if you’re going to be part of a place’s next chapter, you want to start with the best building material that exists,” Kelly said. “My vision is to see UWG build on its foundation and become the university in Georgia that is most relevant to the 21st century and all of the challenges and opportunities this time in higher education presents.”Drs. Brendan and Tressa Kelly speak with student leaders at a conference table.

Dr. Kelly currently serves as chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a position he has held since 2017. He also was appointed in April 2019 as interim president of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.

Prior to USC Upstate, 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, Fla., from 2013 to 2017.

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.

“The journey my wife and I have embarked upon since we met in college has allowed us to fall in love with being part of higher education,” Kelly said. “The type of work we do is difficult and complex, but I still wake up every single day and never lose sight of the one thing that attracted me to this profession in the first place: we get a chance to teach and be a huge part of someone’s life every single day.”

Posted on December 19, 2019