Melissa Vito


Melissa Vito is a recognized higher education leader with over 35 years of experience in public higher education.  She served as both Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success at the University of Arizona, retiring in July of 2018.  In August 2018 she began consulting full time working with several large public universities.  She has also worked with corporations focused on university business.

Her work with universities focuses on assessing their abilities to develop fully online programs, including analyzing organizational structures, financial models, and academic opportunities.   She has also provided general consulting around organizational leadership.  Recent clients (2017-20) include University of California Berkeley, University of Oregon, and University of Texas San Antonio. She currently provides thought leadership for Adobe, including envisioning and leading a research project to measure the impact of curricular use of Adobe Creative Cloud on student learning.  She serves as Vice Provost for Academic Innovation at the University of Texas at San Antonio (she shifted into this role in March 2020).

A transformational leader, she has earned a reputation as forward-thinking, and team focused.  Under her leadership, she initiated and developed University of Arizona’s online programs which launched in Spring of 2015 and which were recognized by UPCEA in Spring of 2019 for the Innovation in Transformation Award.  While at University of Arizona, she also co-founded the Gender Based Violence Center; co-coordinated efforts resulting in University of Arizona’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution; envisioned and developed the Think Tank learning center, Arizona’s first comprehensive academic support area for students; and reimagined Career Services, linking a commitment of student engagement for all undergraduates and student leadership into a comprehensive four-year experience for students and oversaw the development of the University’s first Veterans Center.

The newly opened Student Success District at the University of Arizona was the culmination of her holistic vision to bring together all areas that impact student success ranging from the library to academic support to health and wellness.

In her role at UTSA, she is leading the newly established area of Academic Innovation, building the division along with growing an infrastructure for fully online programs. This work helped make UTSA’s move during the pandemic to remote and online learning relatively seamless.  Several of the programs established by Academic Innovation during the pandemic have received national recognition including the Defining Moments interdisciplinary project and the initiation of Faculty Champions and Points of Contact (WCET recognition).   She initiated and is leading the reorganization that is bringing together the areas of Teaching and Learning and Digital Learning into one area focused on modality-agnostic teaching and learning transformation.    The 2021-22 project to update and transform over 60 classrooms, including adding four outdoor learning spaces was recently (2022) recognized in the Educause Horizon Report.

She envisioned a new physical area that would serve as an incubator and community space to bring faculty, students and teaching and learning specialists together to experiment with new ideas, encourage creativity and inspire transformative teaching—the Academic Innovation Center—opening in September 2022.

She speaks and writes frequently, including contributing a chapter to NASPA’s newly released book Online & Engaged (March 2020) and the upcoming book, From Grassroots to the Highly Orchestrated. Her areas of expertise include leadership, career development, digital literacy, online education, and campus emergency response, among other areas.  Recognized nationally by NASPA as a Pillar of the Profession, she has also received the ACPA national award for Excellence in Practice, the Tucson’s 40 under 40 Mentor of the Year Award, the National Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors Kent Gardner Award for Excellence, the Salpointe High School Hall of Fame and has recently joining the Online Learning Consortium Board of Directors.

She earned a bachelor’s in Journalism and English; Masters in Higher Education and Counseling both from University of Arizona and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.

EDUCAUSE Presentations