Dr. Ursula Kelly learned about the importance of culture, education and generosity early on in life.
Born and raised in the small town of Gambo, N.L., the professor in Memorial’s Faculty of Education reflects fondly on her upbringing and the love of her parents, Margaret Waterman Kelly, a teacher, and Andrew J. Kelly, a logger and small business owner.
Today, place and remembrance are very important to Dr. Kelly, values that impact current and future Memorial University students.
“Both my parents were unfailingly kind and giving,” said Dr. Kelly. “They were natural leaders with a deep love of Newfoundland and Labrador. Their lifelong examples inspire me and provide the guideposts for my own life.”
After high school, Dr. Kelly came to Memorial University where she completed three degrees: a bachelor of arts, a bachelor of education and a master of education. When she decided to pursue a doctor of philosophy, she chose the University of Toronto.
“Once there, I quickly realized how well-prepared I was because of my experiences at Memorial. I enjoyed being a student at Memorial but it was while I was at U of T that I came to appreciate the quality of my studies here and the advantages they provided me.”
“Richness of student experience is one of my priorities. Another is research that encourages responsible understanding.”
Dr. Kelly worked at two universities for extended periods after completing her doctoral degree, but she eventually found her way back home.
She has been with the Faculty of Education at Memorial since 2000. Her passion for her work has resulted in accolades like the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2006 and a University Research Professorship in 2018.
“Richness of student experience is one of my priorities,” said Dr. Kelly. “Another is research that encourages responsible understanding. It is a privilege to enact these personal and professional priorities at this fine university, and in a place I love.”
‘Benefits accrue across generations’
This affection for Memorial and her home province is why Dr. Kelly decided to connect the memory of her parents with two scholarships and an important gift.
Dr. Kelly established the Andrew J. Kelly Rural Small Business Award in memory of her father. It is awarded annually to a student enrolled in any undergraduate program in the Faculty of Business Administration who has shown a commitment to rural entrepreneurship and small business in this province.
Dr. Kelly established the Margaret Waterman Kelly Teaching Prize to commemorate her mother’s life.
The prize is awarded annually to a female student from Newfoundland and Labrador, enrolled in the Faculty of Education at Memorial, who has demonstrated excellence in teaching combined with commitment to community service. Susan Porter, B.Ed.’09, BA’09, M.Ed.’14, received the Margaret Waterman Kelly Teaching Prize in 2009.
The prize helped Ms. Porter financially, but it also gave her the motivation to complete her graduate degree.
“When I heard that I was going to receive the scholarship, I was excited, but mainly grateful,” said Ms. Porter. “It paid for a semester of my master’s program, but also gave me confidence.”
“An investment in education is an investment in knowledge and youth – in all of our children – and the benefits accrue across generations,” Dr. Kelly said.
Dr. Kelly notes that not all students have the same access to support and stresses the impact of giving.
“Awards provide financial support, recognition and enhance confidence,” she said. “When we give to remember, we are acknowledging past gifts that continue to resonate in our lives and – of equal importance – we are embracing the future, hopefully, through those who will benefit from our giving.”
For further information on legacy giving, read the Memorial Legacies newsletter.