I am writing to let you know that Melanie Parker, Executive Director for Career Advising & Professional Development (CAPD), has decided to retire at the end of December. She is relocating to Florida but will continue to work part-time for CAPD through January 2019, to wrap up some remaining projects and assist with the transition. Deborah Liverman, current Director of Career Services, has graciously agreed to serve as interim director effective January 1, 2019.
Melanie joined MIT in 2007 as executive director of what was then known as the MIT Careers Office. She led the transition of that office into Global Education and Career Development (GECD), overseeing activities in career services, career and professional development, prehealth advising, global education, and distinguished fellowships.
Over the next 11 years, under her deft management, GECD has evolved and grown to better meet the needs of students, alumni, employers, departments, and offices throughout campus. Melanie expanded the prehealth advising program through increased support, advocacy, and staffing to serve our medical school applicants and students interested in health professions. Another thrust of her work has been making global opportunities an integral part of the MIT learning experience. The Global Education Office was established as a one-stop information and referral shop and a major global awareness campaign was launched. Thanks in part to these efforts, over half of MIT undergraduates now engage in global experiences, and study abroad participation has grown by 74%.
In collaboration with staff across campus, Melanie and her team implemented a robust career services liaison model, adding assigned advisors to provide targeted programming and to work closely with departments, industries, and special populations such as first years and postdoctoral fellows. Adding online resources, engagement tools, and streamlined appointment and career planning systems has increased access to career guidance for students and alumni. At the same time, employers have benefited from new activities, symposia, and a thriving partnership program.
More recently, Melanie and her team have worked hard to position GECD for the future, focusing on greater visibility and marketing to students, creating the first-year / summer alumni internship program, launching the Infinite Careers series (run jointly with the MIT Alumni Association), and providing guidance for cross-functional teams, one on career exploration and services and another on graduate student professional development.
I also want to express my personal thanks to Melanie and her staff for a smooth transition from GECD to CAPD and for working with me and the leadership team to make career exploration and professional development an even more vital part of the student experience at MIT.
Finally, it is important to note that with Melanie’s retirement we are not simply honoring her time here, but her nearly lifelong commitment and contribution to higher education and student career services. Prior to MIT, Melanie led Career Services and Experiential Learning at the University of Central Florida, along with similar efforts at the University of Florida, Gainesville. In addition to her nearly three decades in higher education, she has had roles in human resources and management, corporate relations, and was a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. Moreover, she has been a vital and inspirational leader outside of her institutional roles as well, speaking at major annual conferences on topics from career mobility to the talent pipeline to employee partnerships, and being honored with awards like the National Association of Colleges and Employers/ Chevron Award for Innovative and Groundbreaking Career Programming.
Please join me in thanking Melanie for her years of dedicated service to the Institute and beyond and especially to all to the thousands of students she and her office have served. Details about a celebration in her honor will be forthcoming.
As mentioned, Deborah will lead the office in an interim capacity for the next 6 to 12 months, drawing upon her almost two-decades of MIT experience. During her time at GECD/CAPD, she has focused on working with employers on how to attract talent, directly supported the personal and professional aspirations of our students, especially women and underrepresented minorities, conducted qualitative research on graduate students’ career goals, and worked with the former Dean of Undergraduate Education, Denny Freeman, on numerous special projects related to enhancing the undergraduate experience. Deborah has worked diligently to develop collaborations with administrative and academic departments across campus in career services programming on behalf of MIT’s students. Deborah earned her PhD in Higher Education Leadership from University of Massachusetts, MEd in Higher Education Administration from University of South Carolina, and BA in Sociology from Davidson College.
I am grateful that Deborah has accepted the role as interim director. The next few months will provide an opportunity to plan CAPD’s leadership structure and organize a search process.
Ian A. Waitz
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education
Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics