In Memoriam

Dr. Tom Kelly ’83

Franciscan Magazine Homepage > Autumn 2023 > Dr. Tom Kelly ’83

In Memoriam

Dr. Tom Kelly ’83

Remembering longtime accounting professor and Department of Accounting, Business Administration, and Economics chair.

Autumn 2023 | Lisa Ferguson

In This Article

On June 14, 2023, Dr. Thomas E. Kelly ’83 lost his battle with cancer, and Franciscan University lost a good friend, alumnus, and longtime associate professor of accounting and chair of the Department of Accounting, Business Administration, and Economics.

As an undergraduate, Tom majored in accounting and economics at Franciscan University, then earned his master’s degree in business administration and doctorate in instructional management and leadership from Robert Morris University. He taught at Franciscan for 23-plus years, 7 of which he also served as the Business Department chair.

Dr. Steve Hildebrand, vice president for Academic Affairs, wrote, “Tom was a dear friend and colleague: smart, practical, wickedly funny, devoted, unfailingly loyal. A wonderful teacher, he profoundly influenced countless students and made a difference in their lives and careers. His professional accomplishments were many and impressive. Under his strong leadership, the Department of Accounting, Business Administration, and Economics made huge strides.”

Professor Douglas Perry, executive director of the Leadership Institute at Franciscan, spelled out some of those strides.

“Tom was intensely proud of the Christian Students in Free Enterprise Club and the Business Advisory Board, both of which he launched. He would often talk about the importance of ‘bringing Christ into the marketplace’ and the need to unite the teachings of the Church with the principles of the free enterprise system,” Perry said. “Under his leadership, the Business Department grew by nearly 50 percent, and he set it on a path to be one of the most compelling majors in the University.”

To honor Tom’s memory and build upon his legacy, his colleagues established the Dr. Tom Kelly Memorial Fund, which supports the initiatives of the Department of Accounting, Business Administration, and Economics, including Christian Students in Free Enterprise events, Business Advisory Board events, and other department priorities.

Another tribute came several months before Tom’s death. President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, told the story in his email on June 14: “I had the joy of calling Tom to let him know a generous friend had made a donation to name a classroom in Christ the Teacher Hall in honor of Tom and his beloved father, the late Professor Ed Kelly, also an accounting professor, who taught here from 1949-1981. Tom told me it made his day, and I can tell you that call made mine, too!”

But amidst these honors, the highest of all compliments came from Hildebrand, who said, “I will miss most of all his friendship.” That statement poignantly expresses the feelings of many a Franciscan University colleague and alum as we continue to mourn the loss of our friend and pray for the comfort of his family.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Go to Top