The University of Virginia announced today that Melissa M. Lubin has been appointed the dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, effective Sept. 19. Lubin is currently the dean of the School of Professional & Continuing Education and chief economic engagement officer at James Madison University.
“Melissa brings a tremendous track record of successful leadership in the field of continuing education,” said UVA Provost Ian Baucom. “Collaboration, teambuilding and creative programming are the bedrock of her approach to creating outstanding experiences for a wide range of lifelong learners. She will be an outstanding leader for our already superb SCPS team, and our other community outreach efforts.”
As founding dean, Lubin conceived, developed and led the strategic planning and approval process to transform JMU’s former Office of Professional & Continuing Education into a school. She oversees a variety of continuing education programming, including degree completion programs for working professionals, online and distance education, and non-credit professional development. Her portfolio includes youth enrichment programs, as well as the Lifelong Learning Institute and the Madison Center for Community Development. As chief economic engagement officer, Lubin serves as the university’s champion for community engagement and economic development.
Lubin is well known for optimizing opportunities for adult learners in organizations like SCPS, which helps working adults finish their degrees and advance their careers by offering online and in-person programs, including bachelor’s degree completion programs, professional certificates, a master’s in public safety, and other career accelerators. Throughout her career she has emphasized partnerships with fellow educational institutions, community organizations and private companies to build programs that benefit students and the Commonwealth. Her time on numerous local boards and committees in Harrisonburg, from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce to Goodwill Industries of the Valleys to the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, have allowed her to connect with the needs of the communities she serves.
“I am pleased and honored to lead the University of Virginia’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies into this next phase of development and growth,” said Lubin. “The University’s strategic plan charts a bold course for community engagement and continuing education. From UVA’s highly respected degree completion programs to its successful online offerings to new and expanding partnerships in Northern Virginia and in Wise, we are poised to offer yet more opportunities to students throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.”
At JMU, Lubin led the university’s partnership with Blue Ridge Community College and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership for workforce expansion programming that would support Merck Pharmaceutical’s $1 billion plant expansion in Elkton. Early outcomes include 54 paid internships, full-time positions for 42 JMU graduates, two faculty externships, and development of a new manufacturing track for the Bachelor of Individualized Study (BIS) and launch of a new project management course for 56 Merck employees.
Lubin is known for emphasizing student success and developing programs that respond to both student and workforce demand. Lubin expanded JMU’s adult degree BIS program to improve access and inclusive practices for at-risk students and developed nine interdisciplinary tracks to match student interests with in-demand workforce needs. Under her watch, BIS enrollments more than tripled from 125 students in 2017 to 485 in 2022. She partnered with JMU’s deans across campus to launch new certificate programs in teacher leadership, an online degree-completion program in early childhood education, a graduate certificate in cyber intelligence and a non-credit program in cybersecurity.
Lubin’s current post as JMU’s chief economic engagement officer and her previous roles as both dean and associate vice provost of Outreach & Engagement called upon her imaginative leadership and collaborative spirit. Lubin is the university champion and chief liaison for economic development, community engagement and public-private partnerships, overseeing the University Economic Development Council charged with broader economic development strategic planning in the wake of the pandemic. She credits her ability to demystify the higher education landscape as key to her success.
“Universities are hard to navigate,” Lubin said. “I feel that an extension of my role as economic engagement officer – and dean – is to help those outside the academy understand how we can be a resource. It’s so important to come to the table, make an introduction and share perspective. This kind of hands-on, personal outreach translates back into successful programs for our students.”
Prior to her time at JMU, Lubin was Virginia Tech’s director of the Commonwealth Campus Centers in Richmond, Newport News and Virginia Beach, partnering with UVA and other academic entities to extend the university’s land grant mission. She managed daily operations for all three centers, including budgeting, marketing and human resources. Under her direction, the Richmond Center exceeded all others in new business development, net revenue and professional development programming for six consecutive years, while the center in Virginia Beach went from last to second in revenue generation.
“Dean Lubin has shown deep experience building programs that illustrate how academic institutions can expand the range and scope of their impact,” said search co-chair Greg Fairchild, dean and CEO of UVA | NOVA and the Isidore Horween Research Professor of Business Administration at the Darden School of Business. “She is a thoughtful and creative colleague that we’re excited to have at UVA.”
Lubin’s work in support of diversity, equity and inclusion is fundamental to her understanding of continuing education as access to opportunity. As a member of the JMU President’s Cabinet, she advocated for the creation of the Task Force on Racial Equity, guided and implemented the JMU provost’s anti-racism and anti-discrimination efforts, and created the job description for the first director of diversity, equity and inclusion for her school. On a more local level, she focused on improving her school’s access, diversity and inclusive practices for students and community members; increased scholarships to underserved populations to attend JMU’s summer camps; and developed an initiative to extend the Lifelong Learning Institute’s programming to more diverse audiences.
JMU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Heather Coltman stated, “Since arriving at JMU, Melissa has been passionate about expanding professional and continuing education, as well as bolstering local economic development opportunities, with a focus on creating and nurturing personal relationships. Her dedicated leadership and enthusiasm for collaboration will be missed.”
Lubin received a Bachelor of General Studies from Armstrong State College in Savannah, Georgia, in 1989, a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia, in 1991, and a doctorate in Adult Learning and Human Resource Development from Virginia Tech’s School of Human Development in 2013. She succeeds interim dean Cynthia Reed, who returns to her role as associate director of administration at SCPS.
“My deepest thanks to Cindy Reed for stepping in to provide steady-handed leadership for SCPS while we undertook this important search,” said UVA President Jim Ryan. “I am also grateful to the search committee, who worked tirelessly to ensure that we would find a talented new dean to lead SCPS into the future. Melissa brings a terrific mix of experience and expertise to SCPS, and I look forward to working with her in the years ahead.”
As a Virginian who grew up in Blacksburg and worked in Richmond and Harrisonburg, she is excited about exploring Charlottesville with her husband, Neil Lubin, and looks forward to visits from her son, D.C. Lubin, who began his first year at JMU this fall.