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Contact:  Kirsten Nelson
(804) 225-2627
For Immediate Release

June 14, 2005

SCHEV Announces Two New Members to Join Staff

RICHMOND —Daniel LaVista, Executive Director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) today announced the appointment of two new members to the SCHEV staff.

"These two individuals bring almost 50 years of combined experience in higher education to SCHEV. At this important juncture in the agency’s history, their knowledge is both needed and welcomed."

Melissa Wyatt will join SCHEV on July 11 as the Senior Associate for Financial Aid. Her responsibilities will include administering several financial aid programs, including the Paul Douglas Teacher Scholarship Program and the Granville Meade Scholarship Program. In addition, she will work with the Commonwealth’s higher education institutions to ensure timely reporting of annual report requirements, as well as provide support for financial aid studies conducted by SCHEV. Ms. Wyatt will also analyze and implement state and federal financial aid policies.

Ms. Wyatt currently serves as the Associate Director of Compliance for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Office of Financial Aid. Prior to her work at Virginia Commonwealth, she served as the Assistant Director of the Office of Financial Aid at Christopher Newport University.

Ms. Wyatt holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Virginia and a Master of Business Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. Ms. Wyatt was previously employed at SCHEV as the Senior Administrative Staff Specialist to the Financial Aid Section.

Mr. James Alessio will join SCHEV staff on August 1 as the Senior Associate for Finance Policy. His duties will include reviewing the 6-year plans submitted by the higher education institutions as required by the recently passed Higher Education Restructuring Act as well as analyzing higher education funding policies in Virginia and other states. Mr. Alessio will also be responsible for helping to assemble higher education budget recommendations considered by the Council for submission to the Governor and General Assembly.

Mr. Alessio currently serves as a mathematics teacher for Chesterfield Public Schools. His previous professional experience includes serving as the Director of Enrollment Services at Virginia Commonwealth University as well as a previous position at SCHEV as the Associate Director for Research, Information Systems and Financial Aid.

Mr. Alessio holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Loyola University and a Master’s in Business from Virginia Commonwealth University

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on Virginia colleges and universities on higher education issues. Agenda materials for the SCHEV meeting are available at

For more information, contact Kirsten Nelson, Director of Government Relations and Communications, at or (804)225-2627.