Leadership Studies

Melissa Rocco

Part-time Faculty
Melissa Rocco photo

Office Location




Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D. Higher Education, Student Affairs, & International Education Policy, University of Maryland
  • M.A. in Higher Education & Student Affairs, The Ohio State University
  • B.S. in Business Administration; Human Resources, The Ohio State University


In addition to her role as an adjunct faculty member at USM, Dr. Melisa L. Rocco is coordinator for the Leadership Studies Program and Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education at the University of Maryland. As a human development and learning scholar, Dr. Rocco’s research seeks to challenge dominant narratives of leadership by exploring the intersections of identity development and leadership understanding. She maintains a scholar-practitioner focus through her work on transformative learning design and high impact practices for leadership education. Dr. Rocco has been working with leadership education and development initiatives in a variety of higher education, non-profit, and business settings since 2005. Her graduate and undergraduate curriculum design and teaching experience includes roles in leadership studies and higher education/student affairs programs at the University of Maryland, University of Southern Maine, and the Ohio State University. Dr. Rocco has also designed and facilitated hundreds of co-curricular leadership programs for higher education institutions, fraternal organizations, and non-profit organizations throughout North America. She maintains active involvement with the international non-profit LeaderShape, Inc. as a co-lead facilitator and curriculum quality team member. Prior to her work in higher education, Dr. Rocco consulted with Fortune 100 companies on organizational change and learning initiatives as part of Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice.

Originally from the Cleveland, Ohio area, Melissa currently resides in Washington, DC.

Areas of Expertise

Leadership identity development, leadership theory, critical perspectives in leadership, social change leadership, human/student development theory, organizational culture and change, curriculum design and facilitation

Research Interests

Leadership identity development of college students, developmental sequencing and scaffolding in leadership curriculum development, high impact practices for student learning

Professional Activity

International Leadership Association (ILA), ACPA: College Student Educators International (ACPA), Inter-Association Leadership Education Collaborative (ILEC)