Remembering Dr. Kelley Wood
I think that, more than anything else, Kelley Wood would like to be remembered with his students, like the group above. News of Kelley’s sudden death coursed through our Trinity family like a terrible shockwave at the end of July. He was out on a bike ride, one of his favorite pastimes when not teaching, and apparently suffered a heart attack. In this modern age, we learned the news late at night on Facebook postings. Immediately the tributes poured in, along with expressions of grief at the unexpected sudden loss of a dear colleague, teacher and friend. One student wrote that he had just written a letter of recommendation for her. An adjunct professor wrote how he loved his students, and she loved working with him, and how she was planning to visit him in his office that week.
Another faculty colleague recalled how he was the first person she met at Trinity, and how helpful he was. Another student wrote about how he helped her to stay enrolled in the master’s degree program despite many challenges, and how he changed her life as a result. Alumnae and alumni write with words of sadness and condolence for Kelley’s family, especially his two brothers Thomas and Robert with whom he was very close.
Another faculty member wrote, “Kelley personified the true meaning of a colleague. His kindness, patience and selflessness will be sorely missed.”
Kind. The word is used in so many of the messages community members sent to me after hearing the awful news. “A good man; a great colleague.” Kind. Patient. Selfless.
The accolades roll on, with the emphasis on Kelley’s remarkable qualities of care and devotion to his students and colleagues.
I remember when Kelley first joined Trinity’s faculty in the Master of Science in Administration Program. Arriving in 2007, Kelley was fresh from his early career in the restaurant business. But far from the stereotype of a hard-charging entrepreneur, Kelley was more interested in people, and how leadership evolves in relation to the people leaders serve. He listened carefully in meetings, sometimes leaning back and at times I thought he was not listening — until he would suddenly lean in and offer a deeply insightful comment about whatever we were discussing — an idea for a program, a plan for course revisions, a solution to some vexing problem. He never pushed his ideas, instead, he simply stated them quietly, confidently, and in a way that compelled everyone to pay attention. He was a very effective thought leader.
Below are some tributes to Kelley. We will be planning a service on campus after the start of the semester and I welcome more tributes for posting here or to share with his family. Send me yours at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if I can post them here.
Ashley F., MSA Student:
Dr. Kelley Wood was a true educator who possessed a kind heart and a passionate mind. I am a current MSA grad student at Trinity. It was Dr. Wood who convinced me to participate in this program and without him, I probably would not have pursued my master’s degree. It was clear that the MSA program was his baby – a true representation of his life’s work and something he loved sharing with his students. I will miss him greatly.
Associate Dean Tom Mostowy, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice:
Kelley was my oldest and closest friend at Trinity. He was the first person I met when I came for my first interview and a much-needed guide during my first years here. I can’t speak to Kelley’s relationship with his students, as our students did not overlap, but no one put more time and effort into ensuring student success than he did.
Kelley was also one of the first to volunteer for those services that are necessary but difficult for the University, like UCAP (University Curriculum and Academic Policy Committee) and the AHRB (Academic Honesty Review Board). He was always a dependable, reliable and good-natured partner. Our overlapping assignments, and proximity of our offices, over the years meant that we spoke about something nearly every day, whether it was Trinity business, his latest close-call on his bike, or my son’s latest skating accomplishment. (Since biking is cross-training for speed-skaters, Kelley was my go-to expert. He kept up with Conor’s career and was the first to congratulate me on his national championship this year.) No matter the topic, there was no such thing as. brief conversation with Kelley.
Covid forced all of us apart this year, and I was so looking forward to rekindling the collegial atmosphere as we returned to more familiar spaces and routines this year. As another academic year begins, Kelley’s absence will be everywhere.
My best to his family. Since we were about the same age, we often spoke of parents, siblings, nephews and nieces, and all those relationships entail, as well.
Dr. Carrie O’Reilly, Associate Professor of the Practice in Nursing and Director of the Simulation Lab:
I first met Kelley during the September 2015 UCAP (University Curriculum and Academic Policy Committee) meeting just after I was hired at Trinity. I asked a question during the committee meeting that, unexpectedly for me, generated some ardent discussion. I must have apologized a few times for the question because after the meeting, which Kelley chaired, he came to me to introduce himself properly and to let me know how happy he was that I was on the committee and that I had asked the question. We talked for several minutes. The next month he came up to me again after the meeting to say he was happy I had come back and, again, how happy he was that I was there. This process of just chatting a few minutes after every UCAP meeting became a habit with us and for the last six years we have always taken the time to sit and share with each other after every UCAP meeting we attended together. As time went on we discussed many topics. We shared the little things about our lives. Sometimes those chats lasted just five minutes and other times they lasted an hour. He shared his love of vegetarian cuisine and I shared how much I hated tofu. He gave me tips about helping graduate students who struggling with the writing requirements of graduate courses and I shared with him my adventures of developing and using grading rubrics in Moodle. He talked about his love of cycling and I talked about my love/hate relationship with knitting. Someone described Kelley as a gentle soul and he was. Kelley Wood was, honestly, one of the treasures I discovered early at Trinity and have been so blessed to get to know. I will keep going to the UCAP meetings because so much great work for the university community is done there but, moving forward, it will never be the same. I will miss my chats with Kelley. I will simply miss knowing such a sweet light is gone.
(Above: Faculty including Dr. Peggy Lewis (former Dean of PGS), Dr. Jamal Watson, Dr. Kelley Wood, Ms. Rehva Jones)
Dr. Jamal Watson, Director of the Strategic Communication and Public Relations Program and Assistant Professor:
Dr. Kelley Wood was a thoughtful and engaging colleague. He was a master teacher who was deeply committed to his students and the profession. Dr. Wood would routinely stop by my office late into the evening to discuss ideas, instructional pedagogy and media and pop culture. As a key component of Business Graduate Studies (BGS) at Trinity, he worked closely with me and Prof. Rehva Jones. Indeed, we were a team! Dr. Wood was funny and self-effacing. He took his job seriously, as a calling of sorts. May the memory of his life and his work be a blessing to all of us who were fortunate to know and work with him.
Ms. Sheryl Brannon, Adjunct Professor:
I will never forget how gracious he always was with me as a first adjunct faculty. He always found time to speak with me and provide guidance. He was truly a gentle soul and a nice human being. He was also so passionate about his work at Trinity. My sincerest condolences to his family.