College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Campus community mourns death of history professor

Date: April 25, 2014

Fran Kelleher


Frances Kelleher, professor of History, passed away April 21 after a long illness.

Dr. Kelleher received a doctorate degree in European history from New York University. Joining the Grand Valley faculty in 1988, she was quickly asked to serve in leadership positions: as assistant dean of Arts & Humanities from 1989-1992, as acting dean in 1990, and then as chair of the Department of History from 1992-2001.  As Chair of History, she left an indelible mark on the department with her vision for and devotion to combining high standards and humane practices. She also drafted the initial plan for the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, was instrumental in the creation of the Honors College, and it was her research that led to the first salary equity study at Grand Valley.

Her devotion to providing students with teaching excellence was a hallmark of her career. As Kelleher moved from administrative work, she quickly adapted to the digital age in her pedagogy, and was the first member of the History Department to master the challenges of online courses and was teaching until the final weeks of her life. She was devoted to what was good for students, the department, the college, the university, and the broader community.

A memorial will be held May 10  on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Kelleher is survived by her spouse Sue Swartzlander, professor of English and Honors, her siblings and their spouses, as well as many nieces and nephews.

People wishing to send donations in Kelleher’s memory are asked to consider two possibilities:

The LGBT Resource Center at Grand Valley State University

The Ursuline Provincialate


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