M. Lee Pelton
President, Emerson College
Lee Pelton is the 12th president of Emerson College in Boston. He was appointed to this role in 2011, after 13 years as president of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He is a well-respected thought and innovation leader, recognized, among many awards, in Boston magazine’s May 2017 Power Issue, “The 21 Most Powerful People in Boston Business,” and in its May 2014 Power Issue, “The Power of Ideas: 75 Bold Thinkers Who Are Shaping Our City and the World.” He is an internationally known speaker and writer on the value of a liberal education and the importance of leadership development, civic engagement, and diversity in higher education. Since arriving at Emerson, Lee has outlined a bold vision for the College as the global hub for arts, communication, and liberal arts.
Lee earned a bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University and began his academic career at Harvard University, where he earned a Ph.D. in English literature with an academic focus on 19th-century British prose and poetry. He taught English and American literature at Harvard. He later served on the Harvard Board of Overseers and as a vice-chair of its executive committee. After Harvard, Lee served as dean of the college at Colgate University and Dartmouth College.
Lee has been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Presidency, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Color Magazine, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and Profiles in Diversity Journal. He serves as chair of the Boston Arts Academy board and on the boards of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; the Museum of African American History; the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts; the Boston Municipal Research Bureau; Facing History and Ourselves; Trinity College, Hartford; and WGBH. He is a past chair of the American Council on Education and has been active in other national higher education associations. Lee holds honorary degrees from the Urban College of Boston and from Tokyo International University.