Dennis Kelly will return to his first college alma mater, albeit virtually, when he presents the commencement address for Atlantic Cape Community College in Hamilton Township, N.J. on June 11. He taped his address Friday (May 22).
Kelly serves Wilmington College as its chief enrollment officer/senior vice president, a role he’s held since 2013.
The coronavirus pandemic not only prevented him from giving the speech live, as the ceremony was moved online, but also Atlantic Cape had planned to honor him with its 2020 President’s Distinguished Alumni Award at an event in April, which has been postponed.
The President’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes graduates that have differentiated themselves through professional, public and community-based accomplishments while also remaining committed to supporting Atlantic Cape and its mission.
Kelly noted that to be both the commencement speaker and receive the Distinguished Alumni Award is “humbling to say the least.”
“Atlantic Cape Community College provided me with my educational roots and, when I obtained the necessary experience, those roots turned into wings and I soared to the top of my profession. Those wings travelled with me around the world,” he said.
Kelly added that knowing ACCC is located in the county and state where he grew up makes the recognition extra special. “It was a defining moment in my long career in higher education.”
After earning an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from Atlantic Cape Community College in 1978, he subsequently received both his Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media and Master of Business Administration degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ.
While a student at Atlantic Cape, Kelly earned four varsity letters in three different sports and was a featured columnist for the College newspaper. He left the ACCC after his first year to join the military during the Vietnam War, but returned to complete his degree.
Kelly’s lengthy and successful career in higher education includes serving in top enrollment management roles at Centenary College, Georgian Court University, Cabrini University, Berkeley College, Marywood University and Wilmington College.
Among a number of honors and special recognition, The White House and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives recognized Kelly for the development and promotion of educational opportunities for families of American troops serving in Iraq.