Longtime UA administrator says farewell
Melissa Vito, a Tucson native, UA alum and nationally recognized leader in student affairs and university administration, recently announced her decision to leave the University of Arizona, effective July 1.
The Office of the Provost hosted a party in her honor on Saturday, June 23 at The Rialto Theatre in Tucson, where members of the UA community and friends were invited to celebrate her impact on the university.
“Thanks Melissa for your leadership, always infusing us with an entrepreneurial spirit and steady hand. You’ve inspired us all to constantly improve and change,” Todd Millay, director of Arizona Student Unions, said in a message to Vito.
Vito, the current senior vice president for Student Affairs, Enrollment Management and Strategic Initiatives, has been at UA since the 1970’s when she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and english. After graduating, she then began working at the university professionally, creating promotional materials for the Office of Financial Aid.
After getting her master’s in higher education administration, Vito continued to move forward at the university, taking on a variety of roles, including head of orientation, student activities and Dean of Students. By 2007, Vito graduated with a doctorate in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University and became the Vice President for Student Affairs in the same year. She was promoted to her current role in early 2013.
“What I’ve really appreciated is that my roles on campus have given me an opportunity to influence. I’ve been fortunate enough to have awesome team members … when you have a vision you need everyone else to kind of help shape it and make it come to life,” Vito said.
Within her many roles on campus, Vito has been a key leader in the development of the university, according to her colleagues. She’s taken on projects such as the construction of the bookstore and student union, residential life, online education and now the student success district.
“We finally were able to, with [the student union and bookstore] project, build out space for students,” Vito said. “We didn’t really have a good leadership and student involvement area. Student government was really crowded, and just knowing that we were actually able to meet those needs was great.”
When asked about why she decided to leave the university, Vito simply said it was time.
“I had an opportunity to leave in 2007, I had an opportunity to leave in 2008 and I had an opportunity to leave in 2013. In each of those times, it just wasn’t quite right … It was more appealing to stay then to go. But I’ve known that at some point, there would be that time that I would decide to go, and this was that time. I feel like we have hit a lot of our goals. The team is terrific. You want to leave while people still like you,” she said.
Vito said she plans to stay close to the university to see some of her newest projects through. She plans to continue working in the realm of education, using her entrepreneurial skills to take her on a new journey.
“I’m entrepreneurial in my heart, and I’ve had some friends who are in different business and we’ve talked over the years. I will likely do some work with them, probably do some consulting … to be determined. I’m trying to figure it all out right now,” she said. “I’m excited to be able to influence things in a different way.”
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