University of West Georgia president to leave for Arkansas job

University of West Georgia President Brendan Kelly. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

University of West Georgia President Brendan Kelly. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

University of West Georgia President Brendan Kelly is leaving his post after just over four years, the school announced Tuesday.

Kelly is taking a job as president of the Arkansas State University System, overseeing seven schools including Arkansas State University. That system enrolls nearly 35,000 students.

The University of West Georgia did not announce his exact departure date, saying Kelly’s leadership “will end in the coming months.” An interim leader has yet to be named.

Kelly is expected to start in Arkansas by Oct. 1, and the university system there has said officials are working to ink a five-year contact with him, according to a news release. The annual salary for his new job will be $450,000. His total compensation at West Georgia for the fiscal year that begins July 1 was slated to be $376,924.

Kelly started at West Georgia, which enrolls just over 12,700 students, in March 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have spent our time at this institution trying to plant seeds, knowing that others would enjoy the shade of the mature trees,” Kelly said in a statement.

He added: “UWG is a special place, and there is no doubt in our minds that the institution will continue to create magic in people’s lives and careers for many, many years to come.”

In fall 2020, just months of Kelly’s arrival at West Georgia, the faculty passed a vote of no-confidence in the new president. The nonbinding resolution came after some faculty criticized a lack of transparency about the budget and were upset over the reorganization of some departments.

After that vote, Kelly pledged to find ways to “make it work.”

During his time at West Georgia, the school won approval to move its athletic teams from the NCAA Division II to Division I. The university has touted its efforts to retain students and establish the College of Mathematics, Computing, and Sciences and the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, both of which start up July 1.