Don Kelly

Assistant Professor of Social Work

“I honor the diverse learning styles and perspectives of my students and work to create an environment where students can express their concerns and desires in a safe atmosphere.”

For most of his life, Dr. Don R. Kelly has “worn many hats.”

From an on-air radio personality and business owner, to general manager of various restaurant chains, Kelly’s path has now taken him to a career in education.

Kelly graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2014 with a Master’s Degree in social work, and a Ph.D. in social work in 2017. That same year, he also earned a Master of Criminal Justice degree from Tarleton State University. Kelly attained his license as a clinical social worker with a focus on mental health.

Joining the Henderson faculty in August 2018, Kelly said he already “feels at home” at the university.

“Among the universities I was considering, it was apparent to me that Henderson offered a unique opportunity to utilize my strengths, provide leadership opportunities, and allow me to be part of establishing a new discipline,” he said. “It was also tough to ignore Henderson’s slogan of being a university with a heart, which tells me the university places a high value on people.”

In the classroom, Kelly said he learns “so much” from students and enjoys helping them succeed academically.

“From my perspective, teaching should be a fun and exciting experience for both the student and the instructor,” he said. “By creating a fun and exciting experience, I believe I am building the most optimal learning environment.”

Kelly said he respects his students.

“It’s one of the most important things I can show, not only to encourage their openness to the material, but also to inspire them to appreciate each other and all other humans,” he said. “I show respect towards students by giving them a voice in class, which encourages learning and enriches the course material through personal experiences and knowledge.”

Kelly encourages students to “see the world with their eyes wide open.”

“We live in such an opinionated world filled with inaccurate information,” he said. “I try to instill a commitment to gathering information from empirical peer-reviewed sources and critically evaluate the rhetoric provided through network news and social media.”

There are “tons” of jobs prospects for students seeking a degree in social work, Kelly said.

“It is one of the fastest growing professions in the country,” he said. “Many social workers work directly with individuals, couples, families, or small groups. Social workers help clients cope with problems such as poverty, abuse, addiction, unemployment, educational issues, disability, trauma, and mental illness.”

When he’s not in the classroom, Kelly said he “loves” to fish.

“I firmly believe we should all have something that helps us take our minds off the rigors of our professions regularly,” he said. “It’s not just about catching fish; It is more about being at peace.”

Sociology and Human Services

Contact Info:

Degree and School:
Ph.D., Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington

Child Development
Peer Mediation
Restorative Justice
School Cultural Change
Mental Health Services

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