After over two decades of dedicated service to The University of New Mexico (UNM), Melanie Sparks, assistant vice president of Campus Business Services for the VP Office of Institutional Support Services (ISS), will be retiring on Aug. 31.

Sparks’ journey at UNM began in 1999, when she joined as the director of UNM Bookstores. Prior to her time at UNM, she garnered experience from several distinguished Colorado institutions, including the University of Colorado, Boulder, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and the Auraria Campus.

Throughout her 24-year tenure at UNM, Sparks has held pivotal executive leadership roles within the VP Office for Institutional Support Services (ISS), initially as executive director and most recently as the assistant vice president for Campus Business Services. Over the course of her career, she has provided visionary leadership to a range of essential Campus Business Service departments, including the LoboCard Office, New Mexico PBS (NMPBS), Popejoy Hall/Public Events, Residence Life & Student Housing, UNM Bookstores, UNM Food, UNM Golf Courses, and UNM Ticketing Services. Her dedicated efforts have helped to shape and enrich the campus experience for countless students, faculty, and staff members. 

"Melanie's unwavering commitment to fostering a vibrant campus environment and ensuring access to essential student services has been truly exceptional," said Teresa Costantinidis, executive vice president for Finance and Administration. "Her leadership and meticulous approach have left a remarkable impression on UNM, creating an enriched experience for everyone, especially our students. We extend our best wishes as she embarks on this well-deserved new chapter."

An accomplished professional with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Sparks’ influence extends beyond the university's borders. She has held many leadership roles, including presidencies for the National Association of College Stores (NACS), their Foundation, Rocky Mountain Skyline Bookstore Association, the Southwest College Bookstore Association, and the New Mexico College Bookstore Association.

In 2015, Sparks earned the distinguished Aspen award from the National Association of College Stores (NACS), which honors a leader who has significantly elevated the standards of professional practice within the collegiate retailing industry. Furthermore, in 2017, she was honored with NACS' most esteemed accolade, the Order of the Eagle Award. This award recognizes Melanie's exceptional contributions and dedicated service to NACS and the broader campus store industry.

Reflecting on her career, Sparks shared, “It has been a profound honor and privilege to devote my entire 37-year career to the higher education industry, with 24 remarkable years at The University of New Mexico. Starting as a student employee and ending as an AVP has been an extraordinary journey. Collaborating with exceptional teams, all driven by a shared commitment to excellence and dedicated to crafting an unforgettable campus experience has truly been the highlight of this incredibly fulfilling path. I extend my deepest gratitude to all those who have been part of this journey, for their support and encouragement throughout the years. Serving in higher education has been the very core of my heart and soul, and I remain resolute in my unwavering belief in and support of its enduring mission.”

“As Melanie enters this new chapter of her journey, her legacy of steadfast commitment and visionary leadership will continue to inspire those within ISS,” expressed Lisa Marbury, assistant vice president of Campus Environments & Facilities at ISS, who has co-lead the VP Office of Institutional Support Services alongside Sparks since 2020. “Her impact on campus life, her pursuit of excellence, and her devotion to creating a dynamic campus experience have left an indelible mark. I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude for her years of service and wish her a retirement filled with happiness and fulfillment. Melanie's influence will undoubtedly continue to resonate throughout the institution and beyond.”

UNM Institutional Support Services (ISS), an essential administrative branch of the university, will continue its mission of providing exceptional services and support to students, faculty, staff, visitors, and patrons. With a workforce of over 650 dedicated full-time staff and an annual budget of approximately $150 million, ISS remains committed to upholding the university's standards of excellence.