University of West Georgia looks to South Carolina for chief

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CARROLLTON, Ga. (AP) — A South Carolina educator is in line to become the next president of the University of West Georgia.

The Georgia Board of Regents on Monday announced that it has chosen Brendan Kelly, now the leader of the University of South Carolina Upstate, as its sole finalist to lead the 13,000-student university in Carrollton.

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.

University System Chancellor Steve Wrigley cites Kelly’s experience and “consensus-building leadership” as qualifying him to lead West Georgia. Kelly increased enrollment and fundraising, reorganized USC Upstate’s academic divisions and developed new academic programs, Wrigley said.

Kelly will visit the West Georgia campus before regents take a final vote on hiring him.

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. Michael 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.

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