MACOMB, Ill. – The longest-tenured administrator in the Western Illinois Athletics Department, Lisa Melz-Jennings was named Interim Director of Athletics on May 21, 2013. Beginning her 15th year with Leatherneck Athletics, Melz-Jennings will continue to serve as the Director of Athletic Academic Services and Senior Woman Administrator.
"I'm humbled by the opportunity to be the Interim Director of Athletics at Western Illinois University. I would like to thank Dr. (Jack) Thomas, Dr. (Gary) Biller and the Board of Trustees for trusting me with this great responsibility,” said Melz-Jennings. “I have been a proud member of this department for 15 years, most recently serving as the Senior Woman Administrator and an Assistant AD/Academic Services. During my tenure, I have prided myself on being a person of integrity with high expectations for our department, most importantly, our fantastic Leatherneck student-athletes. This will not change and I look forward to moving the department through this transition period, until a new Director is named. I would like to wish, his wife Lynn, and their family all of the best in the future."
No stranger to Western, Melz-Jennings earned her Master’s degree in 1994. After a stint as the assistant softball coach at Eastern Illinois, Melz-Jennings came back to Western in the fall of 1998 as the Athletic Academic Coordinator. She was named Director of Athletic Academic Services in 2008 and was further promoted to Assistant Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator before being named the Interim Athletic Director.
During her time at Western, Melz-Jennings has helped change the academic culture of the department. Working with more than 400 student-athletes every academic year, the semester and cumulative Grade Point Averages of Leatherneck student-athletes during her 15 years have consistently surpassed the Macomb campus GPA. This spring is no different as the Athletics Department posted a student-athlete semester GPA of 3.07 – the third-highest semester GPA in Leatherneck Athletics history.
“Clearly our coaches and student-athletes have met the challenge of the university’s core value of academic excellence,” said Melz-Jennings. “This is the third best academic semester we have on record. Our student-athletes have clearly embraced the concept of student-athlete success; on the field, in the pool, on the courts and certainly in the classroom as well.”
Serving as the SWA, Melz-Jennings contributes to program-wide administrative responsibilities, including decision making at the university, conference, and national levels. She also collaboratively addresses departmental goals and supports women's interests and Title IX matters as a member of the Intercollegiate Athletics Gender Equity Committee. She also serves as the sport administrator for the softball, volleyball and men's and women's swimming and diving programs.
Throughout her career, Melz-Jennings has served on various committees, both at the University and NCAA level. She was a member of the Council of Academic Advisors (COAA), the anti-harassment education awareness committee, the leadership workshop committee, and served as the secretary/treasurer for the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) from 2007-2009.
In October 2009, she was appointed to a three-year term on the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance. The purpose of CAP, one of the highest cabinets within the NCAA structure, is to “ensure NCAA Division I member institutions are dedicated to providing student-athletes with an exemplary educational and intercollegiate athletics experience, while enhancing the ability of student-athletes to earn a degree.” Melz-Jennings also serves on the CAP Appeals Subcommittee.
“What I have learned from my colleagues on CAP will be invaluable for me during my time as Interim Director of Athletics. Student-Athletes are my number one priority. I want to make sure they have the best possible experience at WIU academically, athletically and socially while also earning a degree.”
Melz-Jennings earned her bachelor's degree (Sport Management) in 1993 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Master's from Western in Sport Management. A central Illinois native, she and her 1989 Farmington High School state champion softball team were inducted into the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. She played softball at the collegiate level first at Illinois Central College then at University of Massachusetts Amherst. During her time at UMASS, her team placed third in the Women's College World Series.