Kenneth Kelly, interim executive director of Housing, Residential Life and Auxiliary Services, was recognized recently by the NASPA Foundation as a 2016 Pillar of the Profession.
The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) is the leading association for student affairs professionals. Kelly was praised for his leadership in the student affairs profession as well as his significant contributions to Student Orientation and Registration at the Beach plus the Division of Student Affairs.
Kelly has been active in NASPA both regionally and nationally since 1985. He provided leadership as Region VI vice president, chaired the Ethics Task Force that jointly wrote an ethical statement for the student affairs profession and served as a member of the NASPA Board of Directors, as well as many other roles in the association.
The Pillars will be honored in March at the 2016 NASPA Annual Conference to be held in Indianapolis. NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession offering professional development, advocacy and research for 15,000 members in 50 states, 25 countries and eight U.S. territories.
The NASPA award is designed to honor individuals who have served as teachers, leaders and scholars in the field who have sustained professional distinction in the higher education field, as defined by donors and supporters; served in leadership roles in NASPA, either regionally or nationally; are recognized or remembered by colleagues, friends, students or student organizations for extraordinary service; and who have made significant lifetime contributions to the higher education field.
‘This recognition is an honor because it comes from my peers at the very highest level of our association,” said Kelly, who joined the university in 2001. “This is a national award so it is pretty special to me. Only a distinguished few are recognized each year. I’m humbled by this acknowledgement.”
Kelly earned his undergraduate degree from Westfield State University in Massachusetts, his master’s at USC in 1985 and his doctorate in education from CSULB in 2015. “I learned a lot while earning my doctorate,” he said. “It’s given me a whole new perspective. No matter how many years I have worked in student affairs, I am always learning something new. What I learn, I try to teach to my colleagues, new professionals and graduate students.”
Kelly thinks one reason for his recognition is his professional dedication.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I believe that working with students is a calling. NASPA is where I can give back to younger professionals and be a mentor. It’s my chance to provide guidance to them in some ways as someone who has been in the business for 35 years.”
In his current role, Kelly is responsible for building community partnerships through the auxiliary services and proposing solutions for the development and implementation of a housing renovation program for housing and residential life, including living/learning communities. In addition, he has maintained some of his former responsibilities including planning, implementing and evaluating the SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising and Registration) activities designed to facilitate and support a smooth transition and subsequent retention of new and current undergraduate students. He also oversees PFP (Parent and Family Programs). He manages department budgets and human resources and collaborates with a wide variety of departments within and outside the Division of Student Affairs. In his 35-year career, Kelly has served as Associate Dean of Students at Chapman University, Associate Dean of Students/Assistant Vice President at Whittier College and Assistant Dean of Students at UCLA. He also has worked at USC and Keene State College in New Hampshire.
An important part of housing’s evolution at CSULB is its annual renovation program. “The International House and the Housing and Residential Life offices on north campus are next summer’s renovation projects,” he said. “You can’t just replace a boiler and call it a ‘renovation.’ We must look broadly at the entire facility and what can contribute to student success. As you walk around campus, you see students sitting everywhere with their laptops in front of them. My task is to create comfortable and conducive atmospheres for learning. It is up to us to provide what they want and need. Some of these buildings need to be brought from the 1950s to 2015. I frequently ask passing students what they think of the renovations and what they would like to see. What would make them more comfortable? What would be most beneficial to their studies?”
Kelly points with pride to the work done prior to his arrival in renovating two of the dining halls.
“They’re beautiful now with really nice amenities,” he said. “There have flat-screen TVs built in the walls and, in the style of most campuses these days, all kinds of station cooking. They make pizza right there or stir-fried food from a wok. The food is prepared on the spot fresh the way food should be. Now I want to make sure the rest of the residence halls measure up to the dining halls.”