For virtually all of the eight decades of his life, Dr. Samuel E. Kelly has been an advocate of education for its own sake and as a central strategy for improving the lives of African Americans. His awareness of the importance of education came early when his parents demanded careful attention to his studies and lauded the good grades that followed. One older brother, James, was particularly inspiring. James completed college, became the first in the family to receive a Ph.D., and went on to a successful career as an educator and Dean of the College of Education at the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Sams own career in education was enhanced by his military service. While rising through the ranks in the U.S. Army Sam Kelly received a B.A. in history from West Virginia State in 1959 and a B.S. in Education from the same institution two years later. He also received an M.A. in history from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia in 1960, driving 50 miles each way at night to attend classes while teaching ROTC during the day at West Virginia State.
Upon retiring from the U.S. Army in 1966, Sam Kelly knew he wanted to spend the remainder of his life as an educator. Soon afterwards Sam Kelly became the first African American hired in the Washington State Community College System when he began teaching at Everett Junior College.
In 1970 Sam Kelly came to the University of Washington as the founding Vice President for Minority Affairs. Although the post did not require another degree, Sam Kelly, despite the demands of a full-time administrative post, decided to enroll in the Ph.D. program at the University of Washington.
I credit my UW Ph.D. with giving me the critical thinking skills to envision, design, and implement programs to benefit economically disadvantaged students from all cultures. Dr. Sam, as he would be known from that point, put his doctorate to work in service to his community. He urged others to follow his example and worked assiduously to increase the numbers of underrepresented