Michael R. Kelley, GMU professor, dies at 73

November 22, 2013
Michael R. Kelley
GMU professor

Michael R. Kelley, a Chaucer scholar who became a telecommunications specialist and public policy professor at George Mason University and who held the rank of distinguished service professor, died Nov. 11 at Washington Hospital Center. He was 73 and a Fairfax City resident.

The cause was apparent cardiac arrest, said his wife, Robin Kelley.

Dr. Kelley joined the GMU faculty in 1970 and over the decades was a professor of English and telecommunications as well as a professor in the public policy school. He was founding director of the university’s telecommunications master’s program.

In 1981, Dr. Kelley, a former owner of two commercial radio stations in Virginia, started the Capital Connection, a wireless cable television system at GMU which broadcast public affairs programming. He was a past board member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He was a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

At his death, he was president of the George Mason University Instructional Foundation, a nonprofit corporation focused on the university’s educational and community outreach programs.

Michael Robert Kelley was born in Washington, where he was a 1958 graduate of St. Anselm’s Abbey School. He was a 1962 graduate of Catholic University, where he also received in 1965 a master’s of fine arts degree in speech and drama and in 1971 a doctorate in English literature and linguistics.

In addition to scholarly articles, he wrote two books, “Flamboyant Drama: A Study of ‘The Castle of Perseverance, Mankind, and Wisdom’ ” (1979) and “A Parent’s Guide to Television” (1983).

His first marriage, to Janet Curtis, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 19 years, Robin Blackwelder Kelley of Fairfax City; and a son from his first marriage, Owen Kelley of Free Union, Va.

— Adam Bernstein

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