Christopher Newport University has named Rear Adm. William G. Kelly, Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, as its sixth president. Kelly will retire from his 36-year career with the Coast Guard and take the helm at the university in Newport News on July 1.
The appointment comes after a yearlong search for a replacement for Paul Trible Jr., who retired in summer 2022 after leading the university for 26 years. University Chief of Staff Adelia P. Thompson is serving as Interim President.
“President-Select William Kelly exemplifies a life of distinguished service,” said university Rector Lindsey Carney Smith. “His dedication to the principles of scholarship, a life of purpose, and to student success makes him the perfect compassionate leader for Christopher Newport as the university begins its next chapter.”
Kelly, 57, became Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, in 2019.
“Christopher Newport values scholarship, leadership, compassion, service, community — these same core values have guided me throughout my life and are closely aligned with the Academy I currently have the privilege of leading,” said Kelly. “Like Christopher Newport, the Academy is dedicated to developing leaders of character who are well grounded in the sciences and humanities, and committed to a life of service and significance in their communities and the nation. I look forward to supporting and enhancing our academic, experiential, athletic and artistic excellence to ensure our students are ready for successful, consequential lives.”
In his role as superintendent, he is responsible for the education, development and commissioning of officers in the U.S. Coast Guard.
As superintendent, Kelly restructured the academy’s academic governance model, spearheaded multiple diversity and inclusion efforts and instituted a new transgender policy for students, according to biographical information from CNU.
Rear Adm. Kelly is a Cutterman with more than 10 years of service at sea, including two command tours on board the CGC Seneca and CDC Monomoy. As Executive Officer on the CGC Spencer, he prepared and led the crew for deployment with the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Trible, now serving as university chancellor, said Kelly is an “inspired choice.”
“His life of public service embodies the principles of leadership, honor and service that define the Christopher Newport experience and I am confident that CNU’s best days lie ahead,” Trible said.
The search committee for Trible’s replacement included faculty, staff, board members, alumni, students and community leaders.
“I am encouraged that the Board has actively sought to engage the faculty in this process, and create a strong partnership as we move through this time of transition,” said Rachel Holland, the president of the CNU Faculty Senate. “We are eager to work with the new president as he outlines his vision for Christopher Newport’s direction, while continuing to provide a strong foundation of teaching excellence.”
Kelly is a 1987 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in government. Kelly also earned a master’s degree in instructional systems design from Florida State University, where he later served as an adjunct professor teaching a course of his design on change management.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Kelly is also a member of the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee.
Kelly and his wife, Angie, have two adult sons and one grandchild. During his time in the Coast Guard he spent three years in Newport News and six years in Northern Virginia. He is a native of Yonkers, New York.
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