William P. Kelly served as Graduate Center provost and senior vice president (1998–2005) and president (2005–June 30, 2013) before being appointed interim chancellor of the City University of New York. A distinguished American literature scholar and an expert on the works of James Fenimore Cooper, Kelly is the author of Plotting America’s Past: Fenimore Cooper and the Leatherstocking Tales. His essays and reviews have appeared in a broad range of publications, including the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review, and the American Scholar. He is the editor of the Random House edition of The Selected Works of Washington Irving and the Oxford University Press edition of The Pathfinder. He is currently at work on a book about John Jacob Astor.
Kelly graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, and was named Outstanding Graduate Student in English at Indiana University, where he received his Ph.D. Kelly also holds a diploma in intellectual history from Cambridge University and in 1980 received a Fulbright fellowship to France, where he subsequently became visiting professor at the University of Paris. He was also executive director of the CUNY/Paris Exchange Program and, in 2003, was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Ministry of Education in recognition of his contributions to Franco-American educational and cultural relations.
On the faculty of CUNY’s Queens College from 1976 to 1998, he was named Queens College’s Golden Key Honor Society Teacher of the Year in 1994. He was appointed concurrently to the doctoral faculty in English in 1986 and served as the program’s executive officer from 1996 to 1998. Kelly is the vice chairman of the CUNY Research Foundation and serves as a trustee of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.