Melvin Stith was born in Portsmouth, Virginia to Florence Stith and Millard Stith. In 1964, Mel graduated from Central High School in Jarratt, Virginia, a rural farming community between Emporia and Petersburg. Mel went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Norfolk State in 1968. After graduating from college, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Corps and was deployed to the Republic of Vietnam.

Mel achieved the rank of Captain during his time in the Army, and he concluded his military service in 1972. On April 13, 1970, he married the love of his life, Patricia. Upon returning home from Vietnam, Mel enrolled at Syracuse University where he earned his M.B.A. in 1973, and his Ph.D. degree in marketing in 1978, both from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.

Mel’s work history reflects a steady climb on the ladder of success: Assistant professor of business and associate dean at the University of South Florida College of Business; visiting professor at Florida A&M University School of Business and Industry; associate professor of marketing at Florida State University and later the chairman of the department; dean of Florida State’s business school and Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration. Mel is a founding member of the Ph.D. Project, a national program that supports the diversity of business school faculty across academia.

Mel returned to Syracuse to be the dean of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. With his marketing expertise, he has served corporate and nonprofit organizations, such as AARP, AFLAC, Flowers Food Corp., and Synovus Financial Corp. Mel retired from the Whitman School in 2015, but he was called out of retirement in 2017 to serve as the interim president of Norfolk State University. He serves on the board of Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and is involved with many City of Syracuse organizations including the Crouse Hospital Foundation and hospital Board, and the Everson Museum.

Yesterday, Mel was awarded Syracuse University’s Military and Veteran Award, the university’s highest honor bestowed upon its alums who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Mel and Patricia live in Jamesville, NY, and have three children: Melvin Jr., Lori, and William.