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Melissa Dawson
Melissa  Dawson

Executive Associate AD/SWA


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Over the past 14 years, Florida Atlantic University Executive Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator, Melissa Dawson has been instrumental in the tremendous growth of the athletics program. Her consistent leadership and loyalty to the vision of the university has meant great things for Owl athletics. Having spent the majority of her career with internal operations, Dawson will now assumed the oversight of the department'ss external arm.

Dawson was tabbed the Owls' Interim Athletics Director in March of 2012, a role she served until August of the same year when Director of Athletics Pat Chun was hired. Dawson then worked hand-in-hand with Chun to transition FAU into Conference USA as well as change the culture of FAU athletics while upholding the mission of student-athletes first.

As Interim AD, Dawson solidified the men's head basketball coach's contract extension and inked a three-game football series with the University of Miami, which included the Hurricanes playing in Boca Raton in 2015. Dawson then turned her attention to hiring Kellie Lewis-Jay as the women's basketball head coach and Fernanda Nelson as the women's volleyball head coach. Since that time, the FAU volleyball program has seen drastic improvement, including posing the program's sixth highest win total in 2014. In 2013-14, Lewis-Jay's women's basketball team posted just the third winning season in the past 10 years.

Dawson stepped into the role as interim AD after more than two years as the department's senior associate athletics director, a position she earned after nearly 10 years of service as the program's associate athletics director and senior woman's administrator (SWA).

Since first coming to FAU (2001) with a facilities and game operations focus, FAU's landscape has added a softball stadium, a $4.5 million outdoor track, an $11 million renovation to the arena and a $70 million on-campus football stadium, the crown jewel of the university. Dawson has had oversight of game operations, facilities, human resources, strength and conditioning, the equipment room, sports medicine, turf maintenance and grounds for 14 of the 21 teams. Speaking of teams, Dawson has spearheaded the addition of sand volleyball and has had sport oversight, including football and men's basketball, of each of FAU's 21 during her tenure. FAU athletics venues have also served as host facilities for NCAA championships and conference championships, as well as for professional contests, including Major League Lacrosse and several international soccer matches. FAU Stadium is now the home of the Boca Raton Bowl and in 2014, was the host site for the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer College Cup.

Dawson came to FAU from Florida State University, where she held various positions during her 12-year tenure. A 1992 Florida State graduate with a B.S. in physical education, Dawson used her time wisely to gain experience in all aspects of the daily operations of athletic teams and the program as a whole, concluding her FSU stint as an assistant director of athletic facilities and operations. Dawson's FSU experience also included the direct supervision of operations for volleyball, soccer and softball as well as assisting with tennis and swimming. This combined with managing eight athletic facilities, acting as the FSU and Nike liaison, and supervising an equipment staff was done while earning a master of science in athletic administration in April of 1996. While at FSU, Dawson also served as the tournament director or assistant tournament director for the ACC Championships, the NCAA Regional Championships and the 1996 NCAA Women's Tennis Championship.

A central Florida native, Dawson participated in the NCAA Pathway Program in 2014, which is a year-long intensive program designed to elevate those currently in senior-level positions within athletics administration to the next step as a director of athletics.

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