Melody Rose, Ph.D., is a distinguished and dedicated academic, scholar and former college president who brings more than 30 years of experience within higher education to her role as principal in WittKieffer’s Education Practice. Melody uses her insight into the entire realm of higher education to inform her work with clients, to understand their unique leadership needs, and to identify executive candidates who align with and can advance institutional goals and strategies. She intimately understands the particular challenges of academic leadership today and is able to connect with boards, hiring authorities, search committees and candidates on a personal, meaningful level.
Before joining WittKieffer, Melody was Senior Fellow of the National Association of System Heads, helping to develop the Power of Systems, a comprehensive effort to elevate and expand U.S. public university systems. From 2020 to 2022, she was Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, charged with carrying out the organization’s vision, policies and budgets. In this role she designed and led the first statewide, inclusive and comprehensive strategic planning process in 20 years. Melody also served as a member of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s cabinet.
From 2014 to 2019, Melody served as president of Marylhurst University in Lake Oswego, Oregon. As the institution’s CEO, she spearheaded the modernization of the university, from marketing and public relations to internal data systems. She also directly addressed Marylhurst’s enrollment declines and other threats while launching key strategic opportunities for growth and sustainability. For nearly two decades prior, she served the Oregon University System, her final two years as Chancellor. Through two legislative sessions, Melody oversaw the seven-university, 100,000-student system, representing a passionate voice for higher education in Oregon during a time of tremendous change. Melody began her career as a political science professor at Portland State University, later becoming Vice Provost for Academic Programs & Instruction and Dean of Undergraduate Studies. She founded the university’s Center for Women’s Leadership.
Melody remains highly active and visible across the higher education landscape, serving on multiple boards and advisory committees and remaining an active participant in conversations around the future of public higher education, corporate governance, strategic planning, and more. She is a Certified Director of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD).