First Lady

First Lady, Dr. Tressa Kelly

“I love interacting with students and learning about their journey… I also love inviting guests to campus, whether it is to celebrate Arbor Day, to participate in a community service event, to experience art and culture, or to engage in intellectual discussions with our distinguished faculty. Whatever the event, I remind people that they are always welcome on campus."
–Dr. Tressa Kelly, first lady of USC Upstate

USC Upstate’s first lady Dr. Tressa Kelly is a driving force behind the university’s desire to uplift students, faculty and staff, and communities across the region and state of South Carolina.

Dr. Kelly leads a number of initiatives on campus, including the annual Scholars Brunch, athletics receptions, and a Halloween party that reaches hundreds of children in the community. She is involved in programs to support the beautification of our campus and is an avid supporter of USC Upstate athletic teams, as well as the university’s Commercial Music, Art and Theatre programs.

Dr. Kelly earned a Ph.D. in communication from Wayne State University. She received her master’s degree in communication and a bachelor’s degree in communication and theatre arts from Eastern Michigan University. She teaches public speaking and English at Wofford College and a series of online communication courses for the University of West Florida.

She met Chancellor Brendan Kelly while competing for Eastern Michigan University in speech and debate. They have three children: Bree, Liam, and Kieran… Four if you count their Great Dane, Lucy.