ROE R. Cross Distinguished Professor

  • Philip L. Kelly
  • Philip L. Kelly

  • 1991 - Philip L. Kelly

  • Dr. Philip Kelly is an expert when it comes to the affairs of Latin America. That comes from being intimately involved in trips to the countries for on-the-spot, deep research.

    And in some cases, it has been from off-the-beaten path excursions that the fainter of heart might fear to take.

    His experiences in Mexico, for example, included having his automobile break down in a rather remote area of Puebla, forcing him to go to “a hole-in-the-wall repair shop.”

    “The mechanic and I became friends and spent some time during the repair process singing songs about Mexico and life,” said Kelly.

    Another time he was ticketed in Cholula, Mexico for driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street.

    “This was a tremendously interesting experience, for the policeman and I went to three different offices filling out official forms, which ultimately resulted in a fine of $1.20 (in U.S. money).

    Then there was the time he went stomping through a cloud forest-game preserve in Costa Rica in search of Quetzal birds. He never located one, and called it “a great disappointment.”

    But back on the well-traveled path, Kelly earned a national reputation in geopolitical theory and in the geopolitics of Latin America. In his book, Geopolitics of the Southern Cone and Antarctica.” he includes chapter contributions of 15 leading geopolitical writers of South America, England, and the US. He spent nearly all of the 1989-90 academic year teaching and researching in Paraguay under a Fulbright Scholar Award. During that time, he taught two classes for the Universidad Catolica “Nuestra Senda de la Asuncion,” one class for the Universidad Nacional, and one class for the Centro de Informaciones y Recursos para el Desarrollo.

    In addition to teaching at catholic and national universities, he researched and interviewed officials and scholars about the geopolitics of the region and Paraguay’s participation in South American economic integration. He was an official observer of the Paraguayan presidential and congressional elections in May 1989.

    “During my trip to Paraguay, I was able to visit several public and private research clearinghouses and interview their directors,” said Kelly. “These persons declared that developing such data/statistics bases were essential to Paraguayan advancement, but that much more training and coordination in these areas were necessary.

    Kelly considers himself a geopolitical theorist, bent more upon locating tools for interpreting international events than solely upon the events themselves. He always has been interested in the position of objects, how within a dynamic system the action of one element may affect the behavior of another element. Within the international political system, the impact of a nation’s geographic position on its foreign policy and behavior is the essence of geopolitics.

    He was even in the forefront of illegal immigration study, long before the issue became popular in media and politics of the 21st century, by interviewing in Spanish in southern Colorado approximately 100 Mexican aliens in jails and in agricultural areas concerning their living conditions and attitudes as illegal workers in in this country.

    All of these experiences and research certainly enhanced his teaching at Emporia State where he became a lecturer of political science in 1980.

    “Dr. Kelly’s credentials indicated that he excelled in all those areas, said Dr. Carl Prophet during the 1990 Roe R. Cross nomination. “He has been a strong supporter of academic excellence on the campus and certainly his publications and teaching have reflected that.

    “There was ample evidence that Kelly’s recognition for scholarly attainment and expertise went beyond the borders of the United States.”

    Kelly simply sees teaching and research as a partnership.

    “My teaching is rewarding because it allows me to see an expanding awareness in my students,” he explained, “a growth I may contribute to from a theory or interpretation of mine that students use in developing their own realities. Teaching stimulates my research as well as providers a medium for deeper personal reflection.”

    Kelly was born in Fayetteville, Ark., and received his bachelor of arts in 1963 from the  University of Nebraska. He obtained his master’s of political science at the University of Florida in 1964 and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska in 1971. He was an assistant-associate professor at Adams State from 1970 to 1979 and a visiting professor at Texas Tech from 1979 to 1980.

    Recently, Kelly made four summer trips to Greece and Italy for conferences and travel.