After a career in education that has spanned more than four decades, including as a high school teacher and at Colorado State University as a faculty member, associate dean and current vice provost for undergraduate affairs, Kelly Long has announced that she will be retiring in the fall.
Provost and Executive Vice President Mary Pedersen said CSU has benefitted greatly from Long’s deep passion, dedicated leadership and critical intellect as vice provost.
“Kelly has supported several important academic initiatives including co-leading the Student Success Initiatives, overseeing implementation of Student Learning Outcomes for the general education curriculum, guiding a curricular think tank, working closely with the University Curriculum Committee, and leading the Teaching Continuity and Recovery Team from the onset of the pandemic through last fall,” said Provost Mary Pedersen. “She has served with passion and pride, and CSU is a better place for students to learn and succeed thanks to Kelly’s tireless dedication.”
Long said she knew at an early age that a career in education was her destiny, a path inspired by caring teachers who made a great difference in her life. She knew that becoming a teacher not only would feed her inclination to serve and support others, but also would provide her the opportunity to continue learning in order to impact the lives of others through education.
“Education broadens us and can foster positive change in the world,” said Long. “Well before universities began using the term ‘first-generation’ student, when I arrived at CSU as a first-year undergraduate, I was the first in my family to go to college and would be the first to complete a college degree. Eventually, all my four siblings followed suit and earned degrees. Like many first-generation students, we succeeded against a lot of odds.”
Long taught for more than 17 years at Poudre High School in Fort Collins: AP Senior Humanities, IB English and history, theatre and social studies. During her time there, she received a Fulbright Summer Abroad Scholarship from the U.S. Department of Education to study in China. A prestigious Dewitt Wallace National Endowment for the Humanities Teacher-Scholar sabbatical grant followed and allowed her to progress toward a Ph.D. in history.
A true teacher and scholar
The role of American women in U.S.-China relations formed Long’s dissertation and her first published book: Helen Foster Snow: An American Woman in Revolutionary China.
CSU Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History and Emeritus Provost Loren Crabtree, whom Long considers a mentor and friend, called her research on China extraordinary work with remarkable depth. Crabtree is himself a scholar in 20th century Chinese history.
“In these days of global tensions and our relationship with China, it’s important to understand the history and background of Americans in China,” said Crabtree. “Kelly’s book is illuminating of the relationships Helen Foster Snow had with Chinese leaders in the 1930s and how Snow became a key bridge between the U.S. and China. It is first-class work, and Kelly is a true teacher and a true scholar.”
In 2016, Long was honored with a Bridging Award for support of international relations in Xian, China, for that and other scholarly work. In addition, Long also wrote about teaching history and pedagogy, having led professional development opportunities for hundreds of K-16 educators over many years. So moving into administration in the College of Liberal Arts in Spring 2014, when then-Dean Ann Gill selected her to serve as associate dean was both logical and challenging for Long, who found leaving the classroom a difficult decision.
“She is an amazing teacher,” said Vice Provost for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes. “I have seen her go into a room to present and capture the attention of everyone in that room. And these were not explicitly teaching moments, but how she engages the crowd and the students and hears what they had to say while getting her lesson across in a non-threatening way. She clearly has a gift.”
Hughes said Long’s impact has been significant throughout her career at CSU, and that a commitment to students and their educational journey has been at the heart of Long’s work in her roles as administrator and educator.
Serving as VPUA
Pedersen reappointed Long last year as VPUA. Long was first appointed as vice provost in 2016 by then-Provost Rick Miranda who currently serves in dual roles as math professor and CSU System chief academic officer. Miranda said what most impressed him about Long when he hired her was her dedication to students, which he said came out loud and clear.
“Her expertise in the curriculum of the university was incredibly valuable, but along with that she brought her connections to the whole K-12 community as a high school teacher for so many years. She brought compassion to our community, and an orientation from the perspective of the liberal arts and social sciences that helped inform our thinking of how our university could improve our outreach to secondary schools,” said Miranda.
Miranda also pointed to Long’s work leading the Teaching Continuity and Recovery Team as it was launched in March 2020 in response to the pandemic.
“We were in freefall in how we were going to come back after spring break online and how we were going to support our faculty and students. Kelly, along with several deans and others from key support units across campus ,worked tirelessly to protect the university’s academic mission,” said Miranda. “We got through that semester and when fall came, we were better prepared. The wheels were turning well, and I give her a lot of credit and my profound gratitude.”
Long said Miranda’s decision to place her in the role opened up new opportunities for her to engage with remarkable faculty and staff to help elevate the university and its mission of access and academic excellence.
“Rick’s faith in me and his support of collaborative leadership connected me with other colleagues who shared a deep love of higher education and vision for student success,” said Long. “It changed my life, and I strove to provide positive support for those colleagues and our students in kind.”
National search to be conducted
CSU will launch a national search for the next vice provost for undergraduate affairs and more information will be announced when available. Long will assist with the transition of the new vice provost and work on priority initiatives for the Office of the Provost until her full retirement this fall.
“I appreciate Kelly’s willingness to continue to serve in advisement and leadership support as we go through this transition process,” said Pedersen. “I am grateful for her thoughtful leadership and passion for our students and our mission, and all she has contributed through her love of education and her love of CSU.”
Long reflected on her career and what lies ahead for her.
“Whether in the classroom or in a leadership role, I’ve found it most gratifying and important to celebrate others and their successes that I may have helped to foster. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve in a senior leadership role that afforded me the opportunity to do just that,” said Long. “I’ll remain a champion of CSU and will seek ways to support programs and students into the future. I also look forward to teaching on Semester at Sea in Spring 2023, more time for playing my trumpet and making music with others, and traveling.”