When people ask me how I landed in this current role, I tell them that I am an ‘accidental’ provost. A popular synonym for the word accidental is serendipitous and like so many things in life, this role found me—I never planned to be a provost. As provost, I get to tap into many of my interests and work with highly committed individuals who share my passion for Bay Path’s mission of empowering women and men to become leaders in their careers and communities with an innovative approach to learning that prepares students to flourish in a constantly changing world. A happy accident indeed.
With more than 35 years of experience in a wide range of higher education administrative areas, Melissa Morriss-Olson, Ph.D. currently serves as Provost at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Throughout her career, Dr. Morriss-Olson has gained a reputation as a creative academic entrepreneur. In her current role, she led the re-engineering of the learning community including the development of the Thumbprint—Bay Path’s distinguishing educational aspirations—as well as the signature Women Empowered as Learners and Leaders (WELL) program. Under her leadership, the institution established a new academic structure, diversified and strengthened faculty resources and development, and launched an online learning initiative. Dr. Morriss-Olson led the development and launch of more than twenty new graduate degree programs, increasing the graduate program net tuition revenue contribution by more than $25 million.
Prior to joining Bay Path University, Dr. Morriss-Olson held Vice President-level enrollment management and advancement positions at North Park University in Chicago where she restructured the enrollment management function, resulting in a 300% increase in total enrollment, increased total gift income from $5 to $9 million, led the institution’s first capital campaign which exceeded goal at $39 million, and founded and directed the nationally recognized Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, one of the first academic centers of its kind in the country. In addition, she held the first Axelson endowed professorship in nonprofit management and taught graduate school courses in fundraising practice and nonprofit management.
Dr. Morriss-Olson received a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Loyola University of Chicago and has participated in several executive leadership development programs including the Institute for Educational Management (IEM) at Harvard and the Executive Leadership Academy sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges.