Biography & Photo
William P. Kelly is interim chancellor of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s leading urban public university system, which comprises 24 institutions throughout New York City. His appointment by the CUNY Board of Trustees began July 1, 2013.
Dr. Kelly has served as president of the Graduate Center, CUNY’s doctorate-granting institution, since 2005. From 1998 through June 2005, he served as the Graduate Center’s provost and senior vice president, a tenure that was marked by the recruitment of a remarkable cadre of internationally renowned scholars to the school’s faculty.
A distinguished American literature scholar and an expert on the works of James Fenimore Cooper, Dr. Kelly is the author of Plotting America’s Past: Fenimore Cooper and the Leatherstocking Tales. His essays and reviews have appeared in a broad range of publications, including the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review, and The American Scholar. He is the editor of the Random House edition of The Selected Works of Washington Irving and the Oxford University Press edition of The Pathfinder. He is currently at work on a book about John Jacob Astor.
Dr. Kelly graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1971, where he won the David Bowers Prize in American Studies. He was named Outstanding Graduate Student in English at Indiana University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1976. Dr. Kelly also holds a diploma in intellectual history from Cambridge University and in 1980 received a Fulbright Fellowship to France, where he subsequently became visiting professor at the University of Paris. He was also executive director of the CUNY/Paris Exchange Program and, in 2003, was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Ministry of Education in recognition of his contributions to Franco-American educational and cultural relations.
On the faculty of CUNY’s Queens College from 1976 to 1998, he was named Queens College’s Golden Key Honor Society Teacher of the Year in 1994. He was appointed concurrently to the faculty of the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in English in 1986 and served as the program’s executive officer from 1996 to 1998.
Dr. Kelly is currently chair of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and chair of the CUNY Research Foundation.