About Lee Pelton
Dr. M. Lee Pelton is the 12th president of Emerson College.
M. Lee Pelton is the 12th president of Emerson College and internationally known as a speaker and writer on the value of a liberal education and the importance of leadership development, civic engagement, and diversity in higher education. In his first year, President Pelton has developed an exciting vision for Emerson’s future and mapped out an ambitious strategic plan to bring the vision to life.
In particular, President Pelton has focused on increasing Emerson’s institutional capacity and effectiveness, while deepening community engagement and agency. He created new incentives and resources for faculty development, interdisciplinarity and innovation, promoted and renewed the College’s civic leadership, produced very positive fundraising results and improved financial planning operations. He has overseen the creation of several new programs, including the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship, which set records for the number of grants and grant funds awarded to the College, and the Center for the Theater Commons, which supports the development of new plays.
In March, Emerson College broke ground on its architecturally stunning new 100,000-square-foot living-learning facility in the heart of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, dramatically advancing Emerson’s rapid growth as the world’s leading institution of higher education that integrates the arts, communication and liberal learning disciplines.
President Pelton steered the College to the second-best fundraising year in its history, an especially notable achievement in a year of presidential transition. He has facilitated the reorganization of the Board of Trustees and Board of Overseers, and worked closely with these two governing bodies and with the Board of the Alumni Association to advance Emerson’s mission.
Emerson welcomed President Pelton in 2011, when he moved to the College after 13 years as the president of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He previously served as Dean of the College at Colgate University and Dartmouth College.
President Pelton began his academic career at Harvard University, where he earned his Ph.D. in English Literature with a focus on 19th-century British prose and poetry. He taught English and American literature at Harvard and served as senior tutor at Winthrop House, and later served on the Harvard Board of Overseers and as a vice-chair of its executive committee. Over the years, President Pelton has been active in several higher education associations and cultural organizations, including the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education (past chair), the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He is currently an Overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) and a Trustee of the Museum of African-American History (Boston).