Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lecturer who died Monday is remembered by students, colleagues

Kendrick Matthew Kelley, a lecturer in the Sweetland Center for Writing and Lloyd Hall Scholars Program who was beloved by his students and faculty colleagues, died Monday afternoon after collapsing in the Rackham Building.

  Kendrick Matthew Kelley

Kelley, 41, of Ann Arbor collapsed about 2:35 p.m. after dismissing a graduate class, said Diane Brown, public information officer for the Department of Public Safety.

Students attempted to revive him until emergency personnel arrived. EMS technicians worked on Kelley for 30-45 minutes but were unable to resuscitate him, Brown said. He was pronounced dead at 3:15 p.m.

Anne Gere, director of the Sweetland Center, said Kelley was “good at all things. He was an excellent teacher, who also kept up with his scholarship and always stepped up for committee work.”

Gere said she received a touching e-mail from one of the students who attempted to revive Kelley. “She wanted his wife to know that one student was holding his hand and another one was performing CPR until the EMS technicians arrived,” she said.

Kelley is survived by his wife, Julie Babcock, a lecturer in the English Department, and a son, Ambrose, 4. Results of an autopsy performed Tuesday are pending, Brown said.

Carol Tell, director of the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program (LHSP), said Kelley developed a course known as The PhotoBook, which combined writing and photography and was popular among students.

“Students adored him,” she said. “He really understood what a living-learning community is all about and loved connecting with students in and outside the classroom. He had an incredible amount of intelligence, creativity and compassion.”

Marjorie Horton, LSA assistant dean for undergraduate education, said Kelley was really committed to the student and faculty community at the LHSP.

“He was a gifted teacher, who was extremely proud of his students,’’ Horton said. “Matt was always at the weekend and evening events where students showcased their work.”

Brad Estes, an LSA senior majoring in history, knew Kelley as a teacher, a colleague in the Sweetland Center Peer Tutoring Program and a friend.

“He was the best teacher at the university,’’ Estes said. “He cared very deeply about his students and would give you the most detailed responses to even the smallest things. Students joked that there should be a Matt Kelley Fan Club."

In 2008, Kelley was given an LSA Excellence in Education award for exceptional teaching that blended an authoritative presence and rigor with a relaxed, approachable style that set students at ease, Horton said. He also was cited for his collaborations with faculty to create upper-level writing assignments.

Meghan Zingales, an LSA senior majoring in English, met Kelley in a freshman writing class at the Sweetland Center and later worked with him in the peer tutoring program.

“He helped me improve my writing skills and more importantly helped me build confidence in my writing that helped me accomplish so many milestones in my life,’’ Zingales said. “He was a friend and a mentor. He made my experience at Michigan and I was very lucky to have known him.”

Kelley was born in Key West, Fla., and raised in South Carolina, Scotland and Georgia, according to the Sweetland Center’s website. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Emory University, and master’s degree and a doctorate from Purdue University.

A community gathering for the LHSP is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday at Alice Lloyd Hall. A celebration of Kelley’s life is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at a location to be announced.