Newport resident Rebecca Kelly (left) receives the Part Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award from University of Rhode Island Vice Provost Matthew Bodah.

Newport resident Rebecca Kelly honored with University of Rhode Island Part-time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award

The Office of the Provost at the University of Rhode Island recently honored Newport resident Rebecca Kelly with its sixth annual Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. Kelly has been a part-time faculty member in the College of Business since 2017.

A lecturer in the Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design, Kelly is a textile and dress historian focused on the study of 18th and 19th century textiles and trade. Her research focuses on the production and consumption of fashion luxury goods and the way fashion and textiles are represented in the visual culture of the 18th and 19th centuries. She is particularly interested in the birth of American fashion and revealing the work of under-recognized women fashion and textile designers.

“URI is fortunate to have Rebecca Kelly on our faculty,” said Vice Provost Matt Bodah, who chaired the selection committee. “She is not only an alumna, but she also takes time with her students to provide advice on careers or research, drawing on her own vast experience and highly regarded work as a textiles conservator. She is an example of the best that our institution offers.”

Department Chair Karl Aspeland added, “Rebecca is remarkably engaging in her teaching style, tailoring her material to individual students’ needs and background knowledge, crafting her course materials to allow students to focus on their specific talent sets and create portfolio-ready material.”

Kelly, who has more than 20 years’ experience, is the author of “Fashion in the Gilded Age: A Profile of Newport’s King Family in Twentieth-Century American Fashion.” She worked for many years as a textile conservator at the Preservation Society of Newport County and later at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology and continues to work as a consultant for the interpretation and installation of textile exhibitions. Kelly received a B.A. in art history as well as an M.S. in textiles, fashion merchandising and design from the University of Rhode Island. She is also a longtime member of the Costume Society of America.

On hearing the news of this award, her students commented, “Rebecca is possibly the best teacher I have ever had. The coursework in her classes is thoughtful, creative, and engaging.” Another added, “Her enthusiasm, expertise, and kindness will stick with me just as long, if not longer than her lessons.”

In addition to a luncheon in her honor, Kelly’s name has been inscribed on a plaque honoring each year’s award winners. The plaque is located in the Great Room of Green Hall.




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