Mel Graf is in her sixth year at Johnson & Wales University. Currently, she serves as Associate Dean of Student Development with oversight of all aspects of Student Life, including the athletics department. She will serve as the athletics department's interim executive director for the 2018-19 school year.
Under her leadership, Wildcat Athletics is experiencing unprecedented growth and success. Adding field hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse in 2013-14, women’s golf in 2014-15, and women’s rowing and ice hockey in 2015-16, JWU now has 3e intercollegiate athletics programs and nearly 500 student athletes, putting it in the top 25 percent nationally.
With a $1.5 million renovation to the Wildcat Athletic Center, the opening of the state-of-the-art Scotts Miracle Gro Outdoor Athletic Complex and the addition of a new boathouse for rowing and sailing, JWU athletics has some of the best facilities in the northeast. The Wildcats sit atop of their competition, winning the 2014-15 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup in both men’s and women’s sports.
As Associate Dean, Graf leads strategic planning and provides guidance to athletics programs on all four JWU campuses, including Providence, Charlotte, Denver and North Miami. Responsible for athletics development and fundraising, alumni engagement, strategic marketing and promotions, Graf guides the four regional athletic directors in providing a comprehensive athletics program that includes more than 40 NCAA, NAIA, USCAA varsity programs, intramurals, recreation and fitness.
Graf is also a Colonel (Retired) in the US Army Reserves with 30 years of service. Serving on two deployments, the first to Kosovo in support of Operation Joint Guardian, and the second, a 15-month combat tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom, she was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Action Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Valorous Unit Award and the Meritorious Unit Citation.
Graf received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Cornell University, a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Connecticut, and a Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.