Kelly Fox, a senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in higher education, has been named Rice University’s vice president for finance and administration.
Fox currently serves as executive vice president and chief budget officer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, leading the financial management and planning activities for the university’s $2.3 billion budget. Fox also provides leadership, oversight and direction for the institute’s division of administration and finance, which includes financial management and reporting; budgeting; human resources; business services; campus sustainability; facilities planning, design, construction, maintenance and operations; campus safety; information systems and technology; campus planning; and real estate development. More than 1,200 staff report to Fox’s division.
In the newly combined role of vice president for finance and administration at Rice, Fox’s responsibilities will include supervision of financial planning and policies; financial reporting; debt and cash management; financial systems; non-academic budgeting; compliance; capital markets; accounting and audit; construction; facilities; security; housing and food; and human resources. Other responsibilities span the entire institution, including all divisions of the undergraduate, graduate and professional school programs. Although Fox will report directly to the president, she will also work with Rice’s provost on academic budgets and will be a key strategic partner with other leaders at Rice.
She will assume her new role Aug. 22.
“Kelly has a proven track record and a deep well of financial, operational and leadership experience,” said President Reginald DesRoches. “Her lengthy career in higher education, subject matter expertise and thought-partner leadership style make Kelly a strong addition to Rice’s leadership team. I look forward to working with her and to creating shared goals and commitments for the future.”
Fox said she is delighted and honored to join Rice University and to lead the newly formed administration and finance division.
“I am excited about the vision that President DesRoches has laid out for the university,” she said. “I look forward to collaborating across the university to help achieve the ambitious goals before us.”
During her two years as a senior executive at Georgia Tech, Fox, as part of the university’s COVID-19 task force, led the institute’s pandemic response from a financial, infrastructure and personnel perspective, steering the university away from a projected loss of more than $100 million. She also launched a budget reform initiative that provides incentives for key strategic goals such as enrollment growth and increased diversity.
“Kelly has been a transformative leader at Georgia Tech, cultivating a culture of trust, excellence and accountability that will have a lasting impact,” said Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera. “She has led by example and has been a trusted and supportive colleague to me and the rest of our leadership team. Kelly joined us only one month before the onset of the pandemic, and I feel fortunate to have had her experience, wisdom, positive attitude, and steady hand on my team. I will miss Kelly, but I find some solace in the fact that she will be serving and making a difference at another excellent university and under a member of the Georgia Tech extended family, Rice University President Reginald DesRoches, former chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and honorary alum of Georgia Tech.”
Georgia Tech Provost Steve McLaughlin said Kelly has been an incredible asset to Georgia Tech.
“She is a transparent, collaborative leader who is driven to enhance administrative effectiveness through a student- and faculty-centered approach,” McLaughlin said. “We are sad to see her go, but are excited for Kelly and Rice and are not surprised that she will be working for such a great university.”
Before joining Georgia Tech in 2020, Fox led the strategic resources and support team at the University of Colorado Boulder, guiding the financial management and planning activities of its $1.8 billion budget. She oversaw nearly $1 billion in capital improvement projects and improved access to the university by simplifying tuition and fees and increasing aid initiatives. She also began a financial overhaul project to generate new revenues from non-traditional sources, eliminating unnecessary duplication of services, reexamining the university’s procurement strategy and enhancing utilization of gifts.
Fox spent nearly 20 of her years in higher education at the University of Colorado System Office, Colorado School of Mines and the University of Colorado Boulder. She has received several leadership and administrative honors, and served on many national higher-education governing and advisory boards. Fox earned her Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Colorado Denver and her Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Her appointment at Rice comes after a nationwide search was launched in January and conducted by Russell Reynolds, one of the country’s leading executive search firms. The effort was spearheaded by a seven-member committee of faculty, staff and trustees led by Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business.
“The search committee met with some dynamic, high-caliber candidates, but Kelly rose to the top and gained the confidence of us all,” Rodriguez said. “Her no-nonsense approach to university finance and administration paired with her enthusiasm to support the university in its future endeavors makes Kelly a great fit for Rice.”
Fox has been married to John Bratton for 12 years. The couple has two children. Their son, Grayson, is entering the sixth grade in the fall and their daughter, Elizabeth, will be entering the fifth.