A South Carolina college administrator will serve as the next president of the University of West Georgia in Carrollton.

The Georgia Board of Regents on Monday, Dec. 23, announced Brendan Kelly will serve as permanent president of UWG beginning April 1.

Kelly has served as chancellor of the University of South Carolina-Upstate in Spartanburg since 2017.

He also was appointed in April of this year as interim president of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, preceding the retirement of Harris Pastides.

Stuart Rayfield recently began serving as interim president at UWG following the resignation of another interim president, Michael Crafton.

Crafton resigned Dec. 16 following student protests over possible faculty layoffs tied to a budget shortfall resulting from a 3.6% decrease in enrollment, WXIA-TV reported.

The university’s last permanent president, Kyle Marrero, left in April to serve as president of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley said in a news release, “Dr. Kelly is the right person to advance the University of West Georgia’s growing reputation nationwide and its exceptional community partnerships.

“His strong communication skills and strategic planning experience will benefit a campus that has seen its graduation rates, degrees conferred and fundraising on the rise.

“I am confident he will build upon that momentum while being an advocate for West Georgia’s students, faculty and staff.”

Kelly said it was his “honor and privilege to serve as the next president of the University of West Georgia.”

“I was energized by the experience of connecting with faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends on the UWG campus last week,” Kelly said.

“I am grateful for Chancellor Wrigley and the Board of Regents putting their faith in me to lead the next chapter in the evolution of this institution.”

While at USC-Upstate, Kelly completed a strategic planning process, secured increased state funding and led the creation of a university-wide integrated brand platform, the news release stated.

He oversaw a reorganization of the institution’s Academic Affairs division to include dissolving one college and forming three new colleges. He also led the development and implementation of seven high-demand academic programs at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels.

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

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 in Pensacola from 2013 to 2017.

He previously was 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 an 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.

He 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.


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