Finalist announced to lead University of West Georgia

Georgia officials announced Monday an educator leading a university in South Carolina is the finalist to be the next president of the University of West Georgia.

Brendan Kelly, the chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C., has emerged as the top candidate for the West Georgia position, officials said. Kelly will visit the university before the Georgia Board of Regents votes on whether to appoint him to the job.

“Dr. Kelly’s public university experience and consensus-building leadership make him the right candidate to help West Georgia’s push to be one of the nation’s top comprehensive universities,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley said in a statement. “He is well-versed in fostering strong ties within the community, and has led strategic initiatives to increase student and academic success. I am grateful for the diligent efforts of the institution’s Presidential Search and Screen Committee, and believe Dr. Kelly will serve West Georgia’s students, faculty and staff well.”

The University of West Georgia, which has nearly 14,000 students, is grappling with a $3 million budget gap. Students have opposed a proposal to cut some faculty positions to fill the gap.

Kelly began his academic career in 2000 at Eastern Michigan University, where he was assistant director of forensics and a lecturer in the Communication and Theatre Arts Department. He held teaching and administrative roles at the University of West Florida before his arrival in South Carolina. He’s been chancellor at the University of South Carolina Upstate since 2017. Kelly was the University of South Carolina’s interim president earlier this year.

The prior president, Kyle Marrero, was appointed earlier this year as Georgia Southern University’s president.