Founding Vision - 1989
William Melton founded the Melton Foundation in 1991 in collaboration with Patricia Smith. Inspired by the transformational changes taking place in Eastern Europe and Asia, Bill Melton was convinced that deliberately bringing together talented young people from fast-changing yet cultural disparate environments would create a network capable of positive global impact.
William (Bill) Melton, is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Global Internet Ventures, an Internet Holding Company. For more than 20 years, Mr. Melton has been an entrepreneur bringing technology to the financial industry.
He was the original founder of VeriFone Inc, the transaction automation company that has made credit authorization terminals ubiquitous on retail counters throughout the world. He was also an early investor in America Online and served on its Board of Directors for several years. He currently serves on the Board of several private early stage technology companies. He holds a master’s degree in Asian Studies and Chinese Philosophy.
Patricia Smith, the Melton Foundation Co Founder is actively involved in the global fora in the areas of conflict resolution.
Patricia is a playwright with productions throughout the U.S. She is also a photographer who has taught at the Smithsonian Institution, a poet, and an entrepreneur. Currently her work is mainly oriented to founding and directing the PEACE X PEACE Global Network. This organization uses the internet to connect women-based groups in the U.S. in one-to-one relationships with women-based groups working in their home nations outside the U.S. The aim is to foster the conditions necessary to achieve and maintain peace.
Partnership between Two Universities – 1990 to 1992
In 1990, at the dawn of the Internet era, Mr. Melton shared his vision with Dr. Arthur Richardson, then president of Westmar University, and Patricia Smith, who would become the Melton Foundation Co-Founder. From these conversations the Melton Foundation was born. The following year the first Melton Fellows were chosen from Westmar University and the second university, Friedrich Schiller University located in the former East Germany, was selected to join the Foundation. The Foundation's first symposium took place at Westmar in 1992.
Beginning with the first email exchanges in 1991, interactions among the Fellows and campuses were always supported by technology, beginning with email. The use of technology has evolved steadily. Today Melton Fellows use a web portal, real-time video-conferencing, and social media to share information and to collaborate on projects.
First Phase of Expansion to Other Regions - 1992 to 1997
Beginning with India in 1992, the Melton Foundation followed a deliberate and competitive selection process among numerous universities to arrive upon the best matches for innovative university environments. The B.M.S. College of Engineering, associated with Bangalore University, joined the Foundation in 1992. Zhejiang University, one of China´s largest and most competitive universities was selected in 1993, followed by the Universidad de La Frontera, located in the southern Chilean city of Temuco in 1994. Dillard University, a liberal arts college based in New Orleans was chosen from among several Historically Black Colleges in the U.S. to join the Foundation in 1995. Sadly, the Foundation's founding university, Westmar, closed its doors in 1997.
Leveraging the Network for Global Impact
As the Fellows network expanded, so did the opportunities to use its capacity for wider impact. The Foundation has engaged in an increasing number of outreach and collaboration activities designed to engage society around its mission. Fellows have carried out TEDx events, social service projects, film festivals, photo exhibits and co-sponsored activities with a variety of other organizations.
In 2011, following a two-year participatory planning process, the Melton Foundation launched its new strategic plan. The plan, which focuses on actively promoting global citizenship as a means for addressing global challenges, includes plans to expand the Foundation’s programs into Africa and the Middle East.