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Dr. Robert Kelly Inaugurated as 21st University of Portland President

Dr. Kelly Becomes First-Ever Layperson to Lead the 121 Year-old Catholic University

PORTLAND, Ore., September 29, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Before an enthusiastic crowd featuring over 1,000 university community, family members, colleagues and friends, Robert D. Kelly, PhD, stepped on to the pages of University of Portland (UP) history as the institution’s 21st president. Kelly becomes the first layperson and African-American to lead UP in its 121-year history. The presidential inauguration ceremony – UP’s first since 2014 – was held on Friday in the Chiles Center on the UP campus and was also shared nationally via livestream online carriage.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Dr. Robert Kelly, PhD, inaugurated as the first layperson and African-American to lead the University of Portland, a 121 year-old Catholic university in Portland, OR. (Photo: Business Wire)

"University of Portland can be a beacon for dissemination of truth, for testing hypotheses and for gaining new wisdom. For modeling what it means to debate the thorny, tension-filled issues of the day, and achieve new insight and understanding," said Kelly in his inaugural address. "The University of Portland can lead the way in inspiring, educating and preparing students and the campus to partner with our great city and state to address local and global challenges, and to gain a deeper understanding of our commitment to be engaged, active citizens."

Kelly further said, "In a world facing tremendous challenges – poverty, houselessness, inequality, racism, war, climate change and declining spirituality – the University of Portland can be the beacon for human dignity and stewardship of creation; a place that promotes the fundamental truth of the sacred nature of all humans and the planet that we have been given."

After an open, national search led by the University’s Board of Regents, Kelly assumed the leadership reins at UP on July 1. He welcomed more than 900 first-year and transfer students for the 2022-23 academic year along with a robust group of returning sophomores, juniors and seniors. Kelly is poised to lead the University with a new five-year strategic plan to be unveiled later this fall.

In keeping with academic tradition, delegates from more than 100 colleges, universities and community organizations from across the country joined with the UP community in celebrating Kelly’s inauguration. Among the many speakers addressing the crowd and marking the special occasion were Bridget Turner Kelly, PhD, First Lady of the University of Portland; Susheela Jayapal, Multnomah County District 2 Commissioner; Dan Ryan, City of Portland Commissioner for District 2; Sister Veronica Schueler, F.S.E., Chancellor for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C, Provincial Superior, Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests & Brothers; Brent Wilder, President of the Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges and Universities; and a host of other religious, academic and community dignitaries.

**Downloadable inauguration photography can be found here:

The University of Portland (UP) is an independently governed Catholic university guided by the Congregation of Holy Cross; with a mission focusing on teaching and learning, faith and formation, and service and leadership. Multiple national media platforms consistently rank the University among the country’s top institutions of higher education, including U.S. News & World Report which recently named UP the "#1 University in the Western Region" for 2022-23. It is the only school in Oregon to offer a College of Arts & Sciences, a graduate school, and nationally accredited programs in the schools of business, education, engineering, and nursing.

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