Keely Tary

Chair and Associate Professor of English

Office: Brock Hall 3126

Phone: 423.236.2736


BA, Southern Adventist University

MA, La Sierra University

Ph.D., Washington State University


Dr. Keely Tary, associate professor of English, comes from a tradition that values family and education. "In our home growing up, education wasn't optional. It was expected," says Dr. Tary. "My parents prioritized learning—formal schooling, music lessons, Pathfinders, math problems around the dinner table—so education became a priority for me." Her decision to teach came just as naturally.

Dr. Tary graduated from Southern Adventist University with a double major in English and German. She then spent a year as a student missionary teaching English in Prague before attending La Sierra University where she earned a master's degree in English. Her Ph.D. in English at Washington State University culminated in her dissertation, "Transatlantic Travel and Cultural Exchange in the Early Colonial Era: The Hybrid American Female and Her New World Colony." In addition to studying literature, her training includes experience in many aspects of writing programs and processes, including instruction, tutoring, placement, editing, and teaching composition in the online environment. Before joining the English department at Southern in 2008, Dr. Tary taught English for three years at Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences (now Adventist University of Health Sciences) in Orlando. At Southern, she served as the Composition Coordinator for six years, chaired the Writing Committee, and taught composition before becoming department chair in 2014.

Outside the classroom, Dr. Tary's hobby is spending time with her family, including husband John, and children Gemma, John Henry, and Cameo. Dr. Tary hopes her love of learning will carry over from the classroom into her own home. "Education is an amazing gift that lasts a lifetime," she says, a gift she plans to share with her own children.