Dr. John W. Kelly was named President of Florida Atlantic University by unanimous vote of the FAU Board of Trustees on January 17, 2014. He is the seventh President in the 50-year history of FAU, a comprehensive public university with campuses and sites in Boca Raton, Davie, Dania Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter and Fort Pierce. As the University’s chief executive officer, Dr. Kelly oversees an institution that currently serves more than 30,000 students at the bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral levels. With more than half of its student body representing minority groups or coming from abroad, FAU ranks as the most racially, ethnically and culturally diverse institution in Florida’s State University System and is ranked 27th for diversity in the United States.
One of the largest employers in South Florida, FAU has more than 3,000 employees, including 1,000 dedicated faculty members, and an annual operating budget in excess of $690 million. The University has an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion and is conducting millions of dollars’ worth of funded research in such critically important fields as drug discovery, biotechnology, ocean engineering and marine science.
Dr. Kelly came to FAU from Clemson University, where he held a succession of leadership positions over a 28-year period. As Vice President for Economic Development he was one of Clemson’s three Mission Vice Presidents, with wide-ranging responsibilities that included policy setting, strategic planning, hiring strategies, communication and budgeting. He oversaw 12 campuses and centers in a variety of South Carolina locations, supervised more than 900 employees and managed an annual budget of $90 million. As Executive Director of the Clemson University Restoration Institute, he built a highly collaborative team to educate students and direct research in energy systems.
Dr. Kelly also headed Clemson University Public Service Activities, a statewide agency with outreach programs in 46 counties. In this role, he directed Clemson’s Undergraduate Service Learning program, oversaw a broad array of specialized centers and institutes and was co-leader of the Clemson University Center for Workforce Development.
Active on the national level, Dr. Kelly has served on the boards of the Administrative Heads Section of the National Association of State Universities and Land-grant Colleges (now the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities) and the American Distance Education Consortium.
He began his academic career in 1982 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Texas A&M University. Three years later, he went to Clemson, rising through the ranks to become Professor and Department Head by 1991. He was named Vice President for Public Service and Agriculture in 1997 and Vice President for Economic Development in 2010.
Dr. Kelly holds three degrees in horticulture – a bachelor’s degree from Clemson and both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.