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Chancellor Biography

Chancellor Kelli Brown


Kelli R. Brown is Chancellor of Western Carolina University, a regional comprehensive university that serves more than 11,000 students with a wide range of bachelor’s degrees across the spectrum of arts and sciences disciplines and professional programs in business, education, health care, and engineering; more than 30 master’s degree and certificate programs; and five professional doctoral programs. 

Chancellor Brown speaking


Dr. Brown took office as the 12th Chancellor of WCU in July 2019, becoming the University’s first permanent woman chancellor. She previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Georgia College & State University. In July 2016, Chancellor 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, after which she then returned to her position at Georgia College. In addition to her leadership at Georgia College, she has taught undergraduate and graduate students and has served in academic leadership roles at the University of Florida, University of South Florida, Illinois State University, and Western Illinois University. 



Since her arrival, Chancellor Brown has highlighted several priorities: an institutional emphasis on quality and excellence; a commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence; and a focus on the University’s role as an engine of economic development for its communities. Under Chancellor Brown’s stewardship, WCU continues to capitalize on the opportunity to be a thought leader regarding how regionally engaged universities can maintain a student-centered focus, with high levels of teaching innovation.

She serves on the Board of Trustees of Harris Regional Hospital/Swain Community Hospital, Board of Circles of Jackson County (ending the cycle of poverty), ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge President’s Council (nonpartisan mission is student registration and turnout), and Board Chair for North Carolina Campus Compact, a collaborative network of colleges and universities committed to educating students for civic and social responsibility, partnering with communities for positive change, and strengthening democracy. 

Boarding train


Chancellor Brown earned her doctorate in education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; a Master of Science and Education in public health degree and Bachelor of Science degree in public health services, 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.

She is originally from the Midwest, and she and her husband of 34 years, Dennis, live in Cullowhee.

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