In her 26 years at the University of Virginia, Vice President for Finance Melody Bianchetto has championed numerous initiatives that have enhanced the University and shaped its future – and she has been a UVA basketball fan even longer.
A native of Martinsville, Bianchetto began watching college basketball as a seventh-grader. By the time she came to Grounds as a first-year student in 1984, the success of the men’s basketball program had given the UVA community something exciting to rally around. Bianchetto remained an avid fan through the years, traveling to tournaments and attending as many games at University Hall and John Paul Jones Arena as she could.
Her demanding work schedule won’t stand in the way of attending postseason games this year. Bianchetto plans to retire in early February after more than a quarter-century of serving the University.
“I’ve been fortunate to work alongside talented colleagues throughout my time at UVA, and I’m proud of my team,” Bianchetto said. “They are dedicated and savvy, and I am confident that they are positioned well to continue the work we have done together and take it to the next level.”
After earning a Bachelor of Science degree from UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce in 1988, Bianchetto spent eight years working for several accounting firms before returning to her alma mater as a senior budget analyst in 1996. Since then, she has served the University as budget manager, director of budget, assistant vice president for budget and financial planning, associate vice president for finance, and since 2015, vice president for finance.
Bianchetto is widely recognized among her colleagues as a collaborative partner and major contributor to initiatives that sustain and advance the University. This month, her team is completing a multi-year “finance strategic transformation” initiative that includes the launch of a new cloud-based technology solution that is designed to reduce administrative burden, make compliance easier and more consistent, strengthen UVA’s risk management framework, improve financial reporting and analytics, and allow the University to better steward its resources.
“I am especially grateful for the recent progress we have made in expanding UVA’s supplier diversity program and in our inclusive excellence work within UVA Finance,” Bianchetto added.
Colleagues said Bianchetto’s trademark is a combination of soft skills and technical expertise.
“When I came to UVA in 2018, I was excited about the opportunity to get to work with Melody because she is a finance whiz and a team player,” Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer “J.J.” Wagner Davis said. “She’s been a terrific partner for the last four years, and a trusted member of my leadership team. I will miss working with her every day, but I am confident that Melody has built a strong team that will continue to excel.”
Bianchetto’s work has directly impacted the experience of students, faculty and staff. She played a leadership role in developing the financial plans for the AccessUVA financial aid program and for the creation of both the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the School of Data Science.
Her financial acumen has been essential in the construction of capital projects across Grounds, from John Paul Jones Arena to the South Lawn, and in establishing financial self-sufficiency for the School of Law and the Darden School of Business.
Over the last few years, Bianchetto has served on the team that achieved three record-breaking bond issuances and has overseen the University’s $3.2 billion, AAA-rated debt portfolio. With her colleagues, she established the University Financial Model and the management model for the Strategic Investment Fund.
“Melody has been a crucial member of our leadership team here at UVA,” President Jim Ryan said. “She has been generous in sharing her institutional knowledge and is someone we have always been able to count on to provide accurate information and thorough analysis. I’m deeply grateful for her years of outstanding service to the University.”
Bianchetto led the annual budget process that established balanced budgets through significant state reductions, periods of strategic investments, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Among her lasting contributions is her work related to the development of the University’s management agreement with the commonwealth.
“When I hired Melody 26 years ago, I knew she had the potential to make valuable contributions to the financial foundation of the University,” Senior Vice President for Operations and State Government Relations Colette Sheehy said. “I have seen Melody grow professionally throughout her time at UVA and help others to grow by providing them with resources and opportunities. She has been a terrific colleague, and she has set a great example for her team about how to be a strong partner.”
Bianchetto also earned recognition beyond Grounds. In 2014, she received the Rising Star Award from the National Association of College and University Business Officers. She has served as a volunteer leader for NACUBO and the Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers since 1998 and plans to remain engaged in professional activities in the future.
Along with continuing to cheer on the Hoos, Bianchetto’s short-term plans include spending time with family, visiting her parents in Martinsville, traveling internationally, and helping her eldest daughter get settled in a new city to start her first job after college. Her younger daughter is a third-year student at UVA, and her husband, Dennis, continues to work at the University.