E. W. Kelley, LL.D. (BS '39, LLD '71)
Academy of Alumni Fellows 1970
E. W. “Ed” Kelley made a name for himself as a person of extraordinary energy, talent, and leadership abilities—qualities he exhibited as a business administration student at IU in the late 1930s. He served as president of the School of Business student body, founded the Accounting Club, chaired IU Sing, and was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity.
After graduating from IU in 1939, Kelley became a rising star in the business world. He ran the Birds Eye division of General Foods and later, as president of Fairmont Foods, helped develop the Klondike ice cream bar, directed the rollouts of Tang and Cool Whip, created parts of the Lean Cuisine food line, and brought Grey Poupon mustard to America.
He was founder and managing general partner of Kelley & Partners Ltd. and taught at the Columbia University School of Business. As chairman of Steak n Shake, he turned the company into the multimillion-dollar chain it is today.
Supporting the School where he got his start was important to Kelley. It enabled him to “give back to society what society helped me get. I’ve done that by choosing to support a few special things, and Indiana University is obviously one of them.”
He provided financial support for a scholarship fund and three buildings at IU Kokomo. In 1969 he established the first fully funded chair at the School of Business, the E. W. Kelley Chair in Business Administration. Kelley also supported IU Bloomington’s Virgil T. DeVault Alumni Center, Mellencamp Pavilion, Alva Prickett Chair in Accounting, and the Jacobs School of Music.
In 1997 Kelley’s $23 million gift to IU established the Kelley Scholars Program, which provides four years of full tuition, room, board, and living expenses for some of the nation’s most promising business students. His extraordinary generosity inspired IU to rename the School of Business in his honor.
Today our alumni, students, faculty, and staff carry on Ed Kelley’s legacy of leadership, philanthropy, and innovation. We are honored to be associated with such a remarkable man.