South Carolina educator to lead University of West Georgia

December 23, 2019 GMT

CARROLLTON, Ga. (AP) — A South Carolina educator will be the next president of the University of West Georgia.

The Georgia Board of Regents voted on Monday to name Brendan Kelly, now the leader of the University of South Carolina Upstate, as president of the 13,000-student public university in Carrollton. Kelly will start work on April 1.

Kelly had been named the sole finalist for the position last week. Kelly and his wife visited the West Georgia campus on Thursday to meet with students, faculty, staff and university supporters.

Kelly has been chancellor of the South Carolina campus in Spartanburg since 2017. He served briefly as interim president of the entire University of South Carolina, including its main campus in Columbia, earlier this year.

““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,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley said in a statement. “I am confident he will build upon that momentum while being an advocate for West Georgia’s students, faculty and staff.”

Kelly was previously a faculty member and administrator at the University of West Florida. He earned his bachelor and master’s degrees from Eastern Michigan University, while earning a doctorate in rhetoric and political communication from Wayne State University in Detroit.

Kyle Marrero was president at West Georgia until earlier this year, when regents tapped him to lead Georgia Southern University. Micheal Crafton was interim president, but stepped down Monday after campus protests over possible faculty layoffs because of budget cuts. West Georgia’s enrollment fell 3.6% this fall, sparking a $3.1 million shortfall in the university’s $212 million budget.

Stuart Rayfield, vice chancellor for leadership and institutional development for the University System of Georgia, is now interim president at West Georgia.