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Chancellor Biography

Western Carolina University’s Chancellor, Dr. Kelli R. Brown, previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Georgia College & State University, Georgia’s public liberal arts institution.

Chancellor Kelli R. Brown


At Georgia College, she led faculty and student success initiatives, including revitalizing a Center for Student Success, centralizing academic advising and increasing the four-year graduation rate by 25 percent. She supported numerous leadership development programs for faculty and departmental chairs and increased faculty recognition (including awards, and tenure and promotion).

In July 2016, Dr. Brown was appointed interim president of Valdosta State University, a regional comprehensive university in southern Georgia. She served in that capacity until a permanent president took office in January 2017, and she then returned to her position at Georgia College. She joined the faculty at Georgia College as a professor in the School of Health and Human Performance in June 2013.

Chancellor Kelli R. Brown


Dr. Brown was interim dean and professor in the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida from 2012 until 2013 and was associate dean for academic affairs there from 2007 until 2012.  She was a Fellow of the American Council on Education in 2011-12. From July 2003 through June 2006, she was interim dean of the Graduate School at the University of South Florida.

Prior to that appointment, she was an active faculty member in the College of Public Health. Before joining the faculty at USF in 1996, she was chair of the Department of Health Sciences at Illinois State University for two years. During her seven years at Western Illinois University from 1987 until 1994, she rose through the ranks to become the graduate program coordinator in the Department of Health Sciences and, ultimately, assistant to the dean in the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

She holds a doctorate in education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; a master of science and education in public health degree and bachelor of science degree, both from the University of Toledo; and an associate in applied sciences degree in dental hygiene from Michael J. Owens Technical College in Toledo, Ohio.

Dr. Brown's research interests include school and community partnerships, prevention (social) marketing, and adolescent and youth health issues. While at USF, she was a co-principal investigator in the University of South Florida’s Prevention Research Center’s program in community-based prevention marketing, and was the Sarasota demonstration project director. She has worked on numerous funded projects in which social marketing has been used in community and school settings. She was the principal investigator for Florida's statewide social marketing campaign (Florida Cares for Women) to increase breast and cervical cancer screening utilization, and she worked with the Seminole women of Florida in developing culturally appropriate breast and cervical cancer materials.

Chancellor Kelli R. Brown and her husband Dennis


Dr. Brown has been active in several professional health education organizations. She served as the president of the Society for Public Health Education from 2012 until 2014. SOPHE serves as an independent professional association represented by a diverse membership of nearly 4,000 health education professionals and students throughout the United States and 25 international countries. She was the first female president of Eta Sigma Gamma, health education’s national honorary society. She has been an active member of numerous professional organization boards, and was a board member of the Foundation for the Advancement of Health Education Inc. She was an editorial board member for the Social Marketing Quarterly journal, and was the first co-editor of the Health Promotion Practice’s social marketing and health communication column from 2006-2009. She was the editor of the Journal of School Health, a highly esteemed peer-reviewed journal for adolescent and school health, from 2008 until 2011. She is an inaugural member of the Pedagogy in Health Promotion: The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Editorial Board. 

Dr. Brown has been married to Dennis M. Brown for 30 years.

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