The lights in Room 7004 at Auburn University’s Haley Center were always on for political science students who needed help on weeknights and even weekends. The office was the second home of a man some called the “Mayor of Haley Center” who knew a lot about retirement plans but worked in higher education until the very end.
Bill Kelly, an associate professor in the university’s political science department, has been a mainstay of the department for almost 50 years and has taught many generations of students. Kelly passed away Monday at the age of 79, and his colleagues and students say he will be sadly missed.
Kelly was known to many as a workaholic, although his research and teaching are among his few passions in life. Paul Harris, professor and chair of the political science department, said his colleague was the most dedicated faculty member he knew at Auburn.
“He’s actually the only professor I know of who works weekend office hours,” Harris said. “Teaching at Auburn University was his life. “
Hope Guffey, currently a political science student at Auburn, called the late professor “more than a mentor” and said he persuaded her to get a doctorate before entering law school.
Kelly was born December 30, 1941 in Vermont and was a graduate student at Saint Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont, according to Clifton Perry, professor of political science at Auburn and one of Kelly’s colleagues. He earned a doctorate from the University of Nebraska and continued his graduate studies at New Mexico State University before joining Auburn University in the fall of 1973, Perry said.