Dr. Zach P. Messitte is the 13th president of Ripon College and a professor in the Politics and Government Department.
Messitte came to Ripon in 2012 and helped lead the Imagine Tomorrow campaign that raised $67 million, the most successful fundraising campaign in College history. He has also spearheaded the financing, fundraising and planning behind the Revitalize campaign to renovate Ripon’s health, wellness and athletic building into a state of the art facility.
Under his leadership, the campus has made significant strides in the areas of sustainability and diversity and inclusion. Other new initiatives have focused on building morale and community on campus through programs such as the Presidential Staff Awards and the Office of the President Grants, which support faculty, staff and student projects designed to enhance the quality of life at the College.
With support from members of the Alumni Board of Directors, Messitte launched the Career Discovery Tour in 2013, a program committed to further expanding student-alumni career networking opportunities. Through this unique program, current students travel to vibrant cities during fall and spring breaks to network and gain first-hand knowledge of a variety of careers directly from Ripon alumni. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recognized this program with a Pride of Case Award for outstanding achievement in concept and execution.
While at Ripon, Messitte’s opinion editorials have been published in several of the nation’s top 20 newspapers and have covered topics pertaining to the cost of higher education, NCAA Division III student-athletes, Spiro Agnew, the CIA and Redskins football.
When he is not busy doing presidential things or in the classroom, Messitte can usually be found walking the campus, hosting student dinners at his home or playing pick-up basketball.
Prior to joining Ripon, he served as the dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma where he also held the William J. Crowe Chair in Geopolitics. While at Oklahoma he hosted “World Views,” an award-winning program on National Public Radio from 2009-2012.
Messitte continues to be a regular in the classroom as a member of the politics and government faculty at Ripon, and each spring leads students to Rome for a three-week intensive overview of Italian history, politics, culture and language as part of the Liberal Arts In Focus program.
The author of numerous articles, he is the co-editor of a new book on Arezzo an Italian city in Tuscany. He is currently working on a book about former Vice President Spiro Agnew and the Republican Party with the University of Virginia Press. Click here to view Messitte’s faculty profile, including a list of teaching, research and other publications.
From 2002 to 2007, he served as the Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy and a member of the political science faculty at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the state’s honors liberal arts college.
Messitte was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil while his parents were working in the Peace Corps, and grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. A graduate of Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, he received a bachelor’s degree in American history and Italian language from Bowdoin College, a master’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University, and a doctorate in politics from New York University.
Prior to entering academia, he worked for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the United Nations and the Cable News Network (CNN). He and his wife, Julia, have two sons: Sam and Jules.