Chancellor Brendan Kelly, Ph.D.
Since becoming chancellor of the University of South Carolina (USC) Upstate in March 2017, Dr. Brendan B. Kelly has articulated an ambitious vision for the university aimed at creating transformative opportunities for students and the communities of South Carolina’s Upstate region and beyond.
Chancellor Kelly and his leadership team have positioned USC Upstate as a top public, regional comprehensive university in the southeast – one that is focused on maximizing the institution’s ability to educate students, is deeply connected to industry, and is purposefully involved in the community. The university is highly ranked for excellence in performance by U.S. News & World Report, at No. 2 among Top Public Regional Universities in the South, and has been named a College of Distinction.
Engaging hundreds of members of the local community, Dr. Kelly initiated a stakeholder-based strategic planning initiative to develop a blueprint of USC Upstate’s future. Resulting from those efforts was Up. Together: USC Upstate Strategic Plan 2018-2023, which outlines three priorities: Providing rigorous, career relevant and accessible education; enhancing the quality of life in Upstate South Carolina; and being a university of choice for faculty, staff, students, and the community.
Prior to joining USC Upstate, Dr. Kelly served the University of West Florida (UWF) where he led and managed the Division of University Advancement, as well as directed the School of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and chaired the Department of Communication Arts at UWF. He joined the UWF faculty in 2004, serving as director of the nationally recognized UWF speech and debate program. Specializing in speech communication training, Dr. Kelly has taught courses in political communication, speech communication, communication ethics and various areas related to strategic communication.
Multiple honors have been bestowed upon him throughout his professional career, 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 recognition by the US Department of Defense as a Patriotic Employer.
Dr. 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 and his wife, Dr. Tressa Kelly, who serves as USC Upstate’s First Lady, have three children: Bree, Liam and Kieran.