NASW President James J. Kelly has joined a select group of social workers who have risen to the rank of college president.
In January, Kelly began his term as president of Menlo College in Atherton, Calif., a liberal arts business school where Kelly had served as provost and executive vice president.
Menlo labels itself “Silicon Valley’s Business School” and takes pride in being known as a global pioneer in business and industry.
NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark said: “Dr. Kelly has brought a wealth of talent and experience to the leadership of NASW. His diverse background and widespread experience as a social work educator and university administrator will be a great benefit to Menlo College.”
Kelly joined the college in 2007. He said he was attracted to the school because of his experience in starting up and turning around academic programs.
“From my oversight of multiple international MBA and other business programs, I felt that I could be successful in helping to redefine and repurpose the college,” said Kelly, a past president of the NASW California Chapter.
The school’s mission is to develop future leaders through a liberal arts business education. Kelly said his social work skills in promoting cooperation and community collaboration will assist him in leading the school.
“As an administrator, my social work skills have helped me engage faculty, staff and students to dramatically improve both the quality of education provided by the college and the receptivity of those we are charged to educate,” he said. “We hired highly skilled academicians/ teachers/ researchers, revamped the curriculum, and updated the technology, and have thereby attracted a more focused and capable student body.”
As the new president, Kelly said he looks forward to community building through partnerships with Silicon Valley businesses.
“We want our students to be business-engaged leaders with real world experience gained through internships,” he said. “Our students are already involved in many community service projects and I feel there is room for us to grow these skills as part of creating ethical and socially responsible business professionals.”
James Woolever, academic provost and dean of the Professional Studies Program at Menlo College, said Kelly consistently gives attention, appreciation and encouragement to students, faculty, staff and alumni.
“Jim Kelly’s academic and professional career in the area of social work is reflected daily in his commitment to the well being of everyone affiliated with Menlo College,” Woolever said.
Catherine Reeves, vice president for external affairs at Menlo College, said she has worked with Kelly at two academic institutions during the past 12 years.
“His collaborative, dynamic leadership style, boundless energy and passion for community building, academic/business partnerships and strategic teamwork could not be a better fit for the presidency of Menlo College,” she said.
Kelly is a tenured social work educator, having worked for many years in the California State University system and most recently as a professor, associate vice president of continuing and international education, and interim provost at California State University, East Bay.
He received a Ph.D. from Brandeis University and a master of science in social work degree from the University of Tennessee. He was named National Social Worker of the Year in 1987 for work in developing services for people with HIV/AIDS.
Other social workers who lead colleges include: Paula Allen-Meares, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago; Stanley F. Battle, interim president of Southern Connecticut State University; Dianne F. Harrison, president of California State University, Monterey Bay; Karen S. Haynes, president of California State University, San Marcos; William L. Pollard, president of Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York; and Donald Paul Zingale, president of State University of New York at Cobleskill.