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Melissa Morriss-Olson Selected for Leadership-development Program

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announced that Melissa Morriss-Olson, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, is one of 23 senior-level administrators in higher education nationwide selected by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to participate in the 2016-17 Executive Leadership Academy.

Individuals chosen for the year-long program are vice presidents or cabinet officers in higher education who may wish to consider a presidency of an independent college or university. Morriss-Olson will participate in two seminars in Washington, D.C.; the opening seminar will take place July 11-13, 2016, and the closing seminar will be held June 19-21, 2017. She will also engage in readings, webinars, and a mentoring program. In addition, she will develop a professional experiential learning plan focused on specific areas of presidential responsibility.

The academy is intended to help prepare provosts and vice presidents to serve as effective college presidents. “Competition for the available places in the program was intense,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The review committee found the nomination materials to be most impressive. They (and I) believe that Morriss-Olson has the potential for highly effective leadership as a college or university president.”

Morriss-Olson joined Bay Path University in 2006 as a faculty member and founding director of the graduate programs in Nonprofit Management and Strategic Fundraising. In 2009, she became the university’s first Graduate School dean, during which time she was integral in establishing the Center for Distributed Learning and several new graduate degrees, and strengthening the graduate student-support infrastructure. A first-generation college student, Morriss-Olson obtained a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from Loyola University of Chicago in 1995. Developing the talents of women and girls is a personal passion of hers, and she volunteers on behalf of a number of organizations that share this concern.

“Melissa Morriss-Olson has taken Bay Path to new heights,” University President Carol Leary said. “As provost, she has spearheaded initiatives that have increased undergraduate enrollment and overseen the development of the university’s thumbprint — Bay Path’s distinguishing educational aspirations — and our Women Empowered as Learners and Leaders (WELL) program. She is an effective and natural leader, and her participation in the CIC Executive Leadership Academy will be an incredible milestone both for her and for Bay Path.”

Fifty-nine percent of participants in the first Executive Leadership Academy cohort (2009-10) have since advanced in the higher-education ranks, and 34% of participants in a recent cohort (2014-15) have already moved up in the ranks.

“These indicators suggest that CIC is helping to meet the leadership needs of higher education by offering highly effective leadership-development programs for modest fees to member institutions,” Ekman said.

The academy is co-sponsored by CIC, the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), and the American Assoc. of State Colleges and Universities. Tom Kepple, president of AALI and president emeritus of Juniata College in Pennsylvania, is the program director. For more information, visit www.cic.edu/executiveleadershipacademy.

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