Meet Melissa Starace

By Bryan Hay

Growing up in the Easton area, Melissa Starace was quite familiar with Lafayette College and its impact within the community.

“As I learned more about the College’s strategic direction—providing expanded access to academically qualified students—I was sold,” says Starace, who started in February as assistant to the president for board and community relations.

“As one who started at a community college, educational access and community engagement have always been important to me,” she adds. “At Lafayette it has been exciting to learn more about the College’s commitment to the local community—through the efforts of the Landis Center for Community Engagement, arts and theater programs and buildings along the Bushkill, and programs like the summer veggie stand in the West Ward. So many long-standing partnerships exist connecting the College and the community.

Here’s a closer look at her background and interests.

  • Starace was interim vice president of university advancement at The University of Scranton.
  • Prior to joining Scranton, she had a 16-year career at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem Township, Pa., rising from an admissions counselor and academic adviser to director of alumni affairs.
  • At Lafayette she succeeded Jim Krivoski, vice president and liaison to the Board of Trustees, who retired in spring 2018.
  • She holds an Ed.D. degree from University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in education from Lehigh University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cedar Crest College.
  • Born in New York, she grew up in Palmer Township and attended St. Jane School and Notre Dame High School.
  • Her first job was at the TCBY at 25th Street Shopping Center in Palmer while in high school.
  • Her favorite books are The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell and The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by the Rev. James Martin.
  • She loves serving area nonprofits and whatever her kids are interested in, even if it’s reptiles.
  • She’s most proud of her family. She and husband Jason Dittmar have sons Joseph, 20, and Matthew, 16; daughter Regan, 9; and a cat, Lola. She recently learned that Joseph added a bearded dragon named Leopold to the family.
  • She is in the process of developing a community relations plan for the College while supporting our Board of Trustees and planning events on campus. (She joined us in time to take part in the College’s first commencement on Fisher Field this past spring.)  “In my short time at Lafayette I have met many incredible people and learned of many great programs that make our community stronger. In my role, I am seeking to do what I can to build partnerships to strengthen our collective campus impact within our greater community.”