Mela Dutka has extensive senior higher education leadership experience in student affairs. In leadership roles in several institutions, including Smith College, Mela has achieved great success in formulating strategic vision and plans responsive to student and institutional needs and goals, managing and strengthening operations and programs leading to increased effectiveness and achievement of desired outcomes. She is skilled in the use of program review and assessment to improve results, including student satisfaction and persistence to graduation across a variety of institutional settings and student populations. She is also an experienced fiscal manager and planner, including guiding student-centered facility renovation, construction and usage.
As a consultant, Mela has advised campus leaders about program, practice and organizational effectiveness and offering steps, strategies and resources to bring about meaningful change. Among her recent engagements:
- Comprehensive review of student affairs at a private women’s university. Recommendations for structural reorganization, program directions, signature student leadership programs, retention and assessment improvements, and strategic directions, spring 2016. Extended engagement offering assistance in implementing recommendations and advising senior leaders.
- Comprehensive review of student affairs at an urban public university. Analysis of current operations and recommendations for program directions, campus collaborations, retention and assessment initiatives, and strategic opportunities.
- Review of the operation and impact of Greek affairs at a private liberal arts college with recommendations for overall improvement and integration with the college’s academic and social mission.
Her on-campus roles have included:
- Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students/Washington College (MD) Provided leadership for student life departments, programs and initiatives serving 1,450 students at a selective liberal arts college. Selected Outcomes/Accomplishments: Redesigned student affairs improving effectiveness and support for student learning, success, and retention. Developed student affairs strategic plan and guided implementation of key initiatives including revamping residence life and student activities programs, expanding and strengthening the first year student program and career services, establishing multicultural affairs office/mission and creating a campus-wide student leadership program.
- Dean of Students/Smith College (MA) Chief student affairs officer for student life departments and programs serving 2,800 undergraduates at a highly selective liberal arts women’s college. Selected Outcomes/Accomplishments: Guided development of newly created dean of students position and student affairs division. Expanded pre-orientation and revamped new student orientation programs to improve student satisfaction and retention. Redesigned student conduct board and judicial practices increasing effectiveness and credibility of student-run system. Crafted new directions for stronger and more engaging student leadership programs. Lead creation and staffing of first-ever student activities and campus center offices/programs.
- Dean of Students/Columbia College (SC) Chief student affairs officer responsible for programs and services for 1,200 students at a liberal arts women’s college. Selected Outcomes/Accomplishments: Led the design and improvement in orientation, student affairs assessment practices, and other student retention and academic success activities. Responsible for the college’s diversity education efforts, working with students, faculty and staff to create and implement programs and events.
- Director of Housing/Bridgewater State University (MA) Directed housing and residential life programs for 1,900-student system at a public university with 6,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. Selected Outcomes/Accomplishments: Restructured the residential life program. Expanded and enhanced professional and student staff training and development. Collaborated with other college departments and personnel to provide new initiatives related to campus student life. Participated in design, construction and renovation of residence halls, including feasibility studies. Created, planned and implemented a three-day new student orientation program for 1,500 students.
Mela holds a Ph.D. from Boston College; an M.Ed. from the University of Vermont; and a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth. She is a frequent speaker on topics involving strategic planning, assessment, staff supervision and professional development. Other presentation topics include: strategic planning methods, leadership skill and knowledge building for students and staff, organizational culture decoded, and financial management. She has held a variety of leadership positions in ACPA, NASPA and other national higher education and state organizations.