Dennis W. Kelly Named Inaugural Dean of the Q. William Hammack, Jr. School of Business

Dennis W. Kelly has been named inaugural Dean of the Q. William Hammack, Jr. School of Business at Oglethorpe University, effective October 15, 2018. Kelly currently serves as Interim President of Smithsonian Enterprises in Washington, D.C., and brings a long legacy of corporate and nonprofit leadership in Atlanta and beyond.

Dennis Kelly

Dennis W. Kelly

In September 2017, Oglethorpe announced the largest gift in its history, a $50 million commitment from alumnus Q. William “Bill” Hammack, Jr. ’73, to establish the school of business while supporting its core tradition of liberal arts and sciences. The Q. William Hammack, Jr. School of Business will open in fall 2019.

“After an extensive nationwide search, Dennis Kelly proved to be the ideal leader to launch Oglethorpe’s Hammack School of Business,” said Oglethorpe University President Larry Schall. “Dennis has deep roots in Atlanta’s business and nonprofit communities and has an impeccable track record of working with complex education and research organizations and identifying the resources necessary to support those institutions.”

As the inaugural Dean, Kelly will serve as chief academic officer of the business school, responsible for developing a strategic plan to grow programs, both in variety and enrollment, generating philanthropic support to implement the vision, and working with faculty to train future liberal arts business leaders.

“Oglethorpe is not only unique in Atlanta, it is unique because of Atlanta. Creating a business school within a small liberal arts and sciences university in the heart of one of the world’s great cities is a one-of-a-kind opportunity,” said Kelly. “I’m ready to collaborate with the Oglethorpe faculty, students and community to build programs that are truly distinctive in the marketplace.”

Dennis W. Kelly is currently the interim president of Smithsonian Enterprises, the revenue-producing organization at the Smithsonian Institution with three primary divisions: media, retail, and business development and licensing. The media division includes Smithsonian and Air & Space magazines and their online products; Smithsonian Books; goSmithsonian, a brochure and online guide for visitors; and the Smithsonian Channel. The retail operation includes museum and airport stores, the Smithsonian Catalog, two IMAX Theaters, food concessions and adult and student travel programs. Consumer-product licensing encompasses agreements with more than 40 companies permitting the use of the Smithsonian name following collaboration with Smithsonian staff and curators.

Kelly also served for seven years as the director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Kelly oversaw the 163-acre facility in Rock Creek Park and the 3,200-acre Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. He was responsible for the operations of the public Zoo in Washington, which has nearly 2 million visitors a year, and managed the Zoo’s research programs, including groundbreaking work by Zoo scientists in conservation biology around the world. He oversaw the fundraising and education programs coordinated by the Zoo’s membership organization, Friends of the National Zoo. In 2016 and 2017 Kelly served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the accrediting body for the field.

As president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta from 2003 to 2010, Kelly enhanced that institution’s scientific and animal welfare programs and visitor experience and rebuilt its marketing, government relations and fundraising capabilities. He raised more than $40 million in public and private funds for Zoo Atlanta during his six-year tenure.

Prior to Zoo Atlanta, Kelly had joined Green Mountain Energy Company in 1999 as president and soon after was named CEO and Vice Chairman. Green Mountain Energy provides renewable energy and “sustainable solutions” to residential and commercial customers.   

Kelly spent 16 years with the Coca-Cola Company (Atlanta) serving in varied capacities, including Vice President & General Manager, Special Operations (Minute Maid Company); Vice President, Marketing Services – Coca-Cola USA; and Vice President & Director, Strategic Marketing Presearch, Research & Trends. In 1997, Kelly was appointed chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola Europe, overseeing marketing efforts for flagship and local brands in those markets.

Kelly began his career with Procter and Gamble (Engineer/Department Manager) in Jackson, Tennessee, and then Touche Ross & Company (Management Consultant) in Atlanta. Kelly earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard University.

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