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Palmetto College


Dr. Brendan Kelly

     Brendan Kelly, Ph.D., was appointed the sixth chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate on March 1, 2017.

     Prior to coming to USC Upstate, Chancellor Kelly was at the University of West Florida where he led and managed the Division of University Advancement, which included the units of University Marketing and Communications, Alumni Relations, Development, Community Engagement, University of West Florida Historic Trust and WUWF Public Media (NPR, serving the Gulf Coast from the UWF campus for 35 years). He also served as president of the UWF Foundation, Inc. where he was responsible for activities constituting effective and trustworthy stewardship of the UWF Foundation’s assets, including effective governance of the investment portfolio valued at more than $77 million. Additionally, Kelly served as chief executive officer of the UWF Historic Trust, which is dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting and sharing the history of Northwest Florida.

     Before joining the Division of Advancement, Chancellor Kelly was the director of the School of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and chair of the Department of Communication Arts at UWF. He joined the UWF faculty in 2004 and served as director of the nationally recognized UWF speech and debate program. Specializing in speech communication training, Kelly has taught courses in political communication, speech communication, communication ethics and various areas related to strategic communication. 

     During his tenure at UWF, Kelly was recognized through multiple honors, including the UWF Distinguished Teaching Award; induction into the National Forensic Association Hall of Fame; National Forensic Association Eddie Myers Distinguished Service Award; Eastern Michigan University Outstanding Young Alumnus Award; induction into the Eastern Michigan University Forensics Hall of Fame; UWF Faculty Excellence award in Student Affairs; and was recognized by the US Department of Defense as a Patriotic Employer.

     Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a master’s degree in communication from Eastern Michigan University, and a doctorate in rhetoric and political communication from Wayne State University in Detroit. He is married to Dr. Tressa Kelly and they have three children: Bree, Liam and Kieran.