Dr. Zach P. Messitte arrived in Ripon in July 2012, and was inaugurated as the 13th president of Ripon College on September 29, 2012.
Since assuming the presidency, Messitte has helped to lead the $60 million Imagine Tomorrow campaign — the most successful fundraising campaign in College history.
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 innovative 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 was able to launch 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.
In 2014, Messitte introduced the Liberal Arts In Focus program, which offers students the chance to take three-week, immersive experience courses each spring in a variety of international and domestic locations. Taught in short, intensive blocks, In Focus courses bridge the theory and coursework of traditional classes to their real-world applications through problem-solving, creative work and practical experience.
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 chatting with students on campus or playing a pick-up game of 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.
A teacher first, Messitte was in the classroom every semester at Oklahoma, leading courses on American foreign policy, introduction to international studies and senior seminars on foreign policy, media and film. He continues to teach as a member of the politics and government faculty at Ripon, and each spring leads students (and now alumni) 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, Understanding the Global Community, and hosted “World Views,” an award-winning program on National Public Radio from 2009-2012. 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. 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.