A view of Boston's historic Pilot House from the harbor

Matt Conti

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 by Boston Chamber of Commerce as Distinguished Bostonian 2020, June 2020, Racial Justice Grant in Honor of Lee Pelton, $100,000 grant to be distributed to selected non-profits, EOS Foundation, 2020, The Governor's Awards in the Humanities, 2020, in Boston Business Journal, 50 Most Powerful Leaders in Boston, October, 2018; Boston Magazine Power Issue, One of The 100 Most Influential People in Boston, April 2018, 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.

He is the chair of the Boston Racial Equity Fund Steering Committee (July 2020). He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Boston Chamber of Commerce (vice chair & executive committee), WGBH (executive, finance and compensation committees), Boston Arts Academy Foundation (chair), Facing History and Ourselves as well as a member of the M.I.T. Press Management Board, Harvard Magazine, Harvard Graduate School Alumni Council, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts and King Boston Advisory Committee.

Lee holds honorary degrees from the Urban College of Boston, Wichita State University, and Tokyo International University.

Learn more about Lee by watching the video below:

Lee Pelton Touched Up