Dr. Melissa Curtis has more than twenty-two years of community college experience, spanning both academic and student affairs. She serves as Associate Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management at Austin Community College, leading enrollment strategies for the district’s eleven campuses. Dr. Curtis has also held positions as Dean of Student Services and Director of College Connection, an award-winning program that increased college access from the region’s 26 school districts. Dr. Curtis began her community college career in 1999 as an English Professor at Central Texas College, where she dedicated herself to the community college mission.
Dr. Curtis’s responsibility spans the full student life cycle, including recruitment, admissions, entry advising, financial aid, veterans’ affairs, international student services, student records, graduation services, and the student affairs help desk. Since the start of the Covid19 pandemic, her team has distributed more than $29 million Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds directly to students and almost $5 million for debt forgiveness. Dr. Curtis spearheaded ACC’s participation in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Emergency Aid Lab and led the college to expand its culture of caring. She has partnered with the E3 Alliance in their attainment of the Intermediaries for Scale to dramatically improve student outcomes and educational value and eliminate race, ethnicity, and income as predictors of student success.
Dr. Curtis is a recognized coalition builder in the community, nurturing partnerships to improve college and career success for the region. Her service has included seats on the YMCA Austin Metropolitan Board, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce DTC70 and Education Council, the E3 Alliance Blueprint Leadership Council, and the Austin College Attainment Network. Nationally, she has served on the CCSSE Students in Need in Community Colleges Advisory Board as well as the HERDI South Advisory Board. Dr. Curtis is a published author and has presented nationally on Emergency Aid, Equity in Strategic Enrollment Management, and Student Affairs Change Management. Dr. Curtis earned her Ph.D. from the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin, her M.F.A. in creative writing at Texas State University, and her B.A. in Oral Tradition in African and American Literature at Vassar College.
Dr. Brian Dixon | Associate Vice Provost for Student Aid and Affordability | The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Dixon previously served as the Assistant Vice-President of Student Financial Services at Washington State University, overseeing a 6-campus system. He has over 20 years of experience working with functional and technical aspects of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions implementations and upgrades at various higher education institutions nationally.
He provided leadership at City Colleges of Chicago as the Financial Aid and Student Financials Production Support lead consultant; at Madison Area Technical College for PeopleSoft Campus Solutions upgrade; at the University of Arkansas-Monticello as the Financial Aid Functional Lead PeopleSoft Campus Solutions lead consultant; at National Park Community College as the Financial Aid Functional Lead PeopleSoft Campus Solutions lead consultant; at George Fox University as the Financial Aid Functional Lead PeopleSoft Campus Solutions lead consultant; and at Marquette University as the functional tester of the PeopleSoft upgrade. Brian completed full life-cycle implementations of Financial Aid modules at the University of Missouri – Columbia, the University of Missouri – St. Louis, the University of Wisconsin- Parkside, and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He also worked with Student Administration implementation projects at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.”nbsp;
Dr. Wil Del Pilar | Vice President for Higher Education Policy and Practice | The Education Trust
Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D., serves as Ed Trust’s vice president of higher education policy and practice. In this role, Wil spearheads Ed Trust’s mission to highlight inequities and outline solutions in order to improve access, success, affordability, and completion in higher education for low-income students and students of color.
Prior to joining Ed Trust, Wil served in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration as deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, where he developed and implemented the state’s strategic vision for higher education. Before joining Governor Wolf’s team, Wil had experience in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, working as an executive assistant in the state’s higher education office. In this role, he managed an array of services for the state, including the College Access Challenge Grant and the Pennsylvania Information Management System.
Aside from working for Pennsylvania’s Department of Education in higher education policy roles, Wil has held senior development positions, as the director of development at Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Florida’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. In both positions, he fought to secure funding to support access and success initiatives for historically underrepresented students.
In addition to his policy and development experience, Wil has a wealth of institutional experience, working in admissions at Chapman University in Orange, California, and the University of California Santa Cruz, as a financial aid counselor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and as a research assistant at Penn State.
Wil holds a doctorate in higher education/higher education administration from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from California State University-Dominguez Hills, and a bachelor’s degree from Chapman University.nbsp;