Dr. Tressa Kelly
Dr. Tressa Kelly

The University of West Georgia’s First Lady, Dr. Tressa Kelly, is a champion of finding one’s truth. She is a proponent of empowering students to find their passion – and themselves – during their university experience.

Dr. Kelly spent her childhood years in Michigan, living only a half-hour away from the hometown of Dr. Brendan Kelly, UWG’s eighth president. As the daughter of two educators, she always felt comfortable in the classroom, earning a Ph.D. in communication with a focus on rhetorical studies from Wayne State University and receiving her master’s degree in communication and a bachelor’s degree in communication and theatre arts from Eastern Michigan University.

Dr. Kelly coached collegiate speech and debate for more than a decade. At the University of West Florida, she served as the director of speech and debate and basic course director for the course of public speaking.

Having taught for 24 years at the collegiate level – in an array of undergraduate and graduate courses, including public speaking, advanced public speaking, research methods, gender communication, rhetorical criticism, social movements and intercultural communication – Dr. Kelly always felt like she belonged in higher education, what she calls the “gateway to success in society.”

Being First Lady aligns well with that passion, as she enjoys bridging the university and its students, faculty, staff, and alumni with the West Georgia community. She is also deeply interested in community indicators as they relate to community health and wellness, education and literacy, and food and housing insecurity.

“A public university campus belongs to the community, and I love to remind people that they’re always welcome to visit our campus for the first time or to come back and find out what’s new. It’s a place for everyone to learn and grow – not just our students.”

Dr. Kelly is married to the University of West Georgia’s eighth president, Dr. Brendan B. Kelly. The Kellys have three children – Bree, Liam, and Kieran – and a Great Dane named Lucy. In addition to being a mother, Dr. Kelly has also trained as a doula through DONA International and is an avid reader and yoga lover. She enjoys spending time outside and watching sports – especially basketball.

The Kelly Family