Melissa Morriss-Olson, Ph.D. became Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in August, 2010. She joined the College in fall 2006 as a faculty member and founding director of the graduate programs in nonprofit management and strategic fundraising. In fall 2009, Dr. Morriss-Olson became Bay Path’s first Graduate School Dean. During her tenure as Dean, the Center for Distributed Learning was established, several new graduate degrees were added, and the graduate student support infrastructure was significantly strengthened. As Provost, Dr. Morriss-Olson has led the re-engineering of the learning community and structure including the development of the Thumbprint—Bay Path’s distinguishing educational aspirations—as well as the Women Empowered as Learners and Leaders (WELL) program. Under her leadership, a new academic structure consisting of schools and the College of Arts and Sciences has been established and faculty resources have been diversified and strengthened. Dr. Morriss-Olson has led the development and launch of the new M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies graduate degree program as well as the Online Degree Completion Program for Women. She has also overseen the reshaping of undergraduate admissions and marketing, resulting in increased traditional undergraduate enrollment.
Dr. Morriss-Olson worked previously at North Park University in Chicago (from 1982 – 2006). At North Park, she served as Vice President of Enrollment Management where she overhauled the enrollment management program, resulting in a 300% increase in total enrollment. Under Dr. Morriss-Olson’s leadership as Senior Vice President for University Relations, the University successfully completed its first-ever comprehensive capital campaign, raising $40 million in capital funds and increasing annual gift income from $5 million to $9 million. Dr. Morriss-Olson also founded and directed North Park’s nationally recognized Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, one of the first academic centers of its kind in the country, and held the first Axelson endowed professorship in nonprofit management.
A first-generation college student, Dr. Morriss-Olson obtained a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Loyola University of Chicago in 1995. Her doctoral dissertation, which was designated by the Loyola faculty as “completed with distinction”, was later published as “Successful Strategies for Christian Colleges and Universities: A Leader’s Guide to Managing in Turbulent Times” (1995). Morriss-Olson’s teaching interests include philanthropic theory, principles and practice, board governance and volunteer management, organizational behavior and leadership, women and leadership, higher education administration theory and organizational culture, and women in higher education. Her research interests include successful college management practices, and women leaders in higher education.
Developing the talents of women and girls is a personal passion of Dr. Morriss-Olson, who volunteers on behalf of organizations that share this concern. She has served on many nonprofit boards including the GivingUSA Foundation board and speaks frequently on philanthropy and womens’ issues. Married for 31 years to her husband, Glenn, Dr. Morriss-Olson is the very proud mother of two teenage daughters.