Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

M. Lee Pelton named president of Emerson College

M. Lee Pelton

President M. Lee Pelton announced in September that he will resign his post at the end of this academic year to become president of Emerson College in Boston, Mass., beginning July 2011.

"I feel fortunate to return to a city I have always loved with many great memories and experiences from Willamette as I begin what I hope will be a long and productive association with another distinctive, cutting edge and mission driven College whose contributions to communication and to the arts I greatly admire and whose values are happily aligned with my own," Pelton said.

Throughout his twelve-year presidency at Willamette, Pelton focused on strengthening the academic and intellectual experiences of the university's students. Among Willamette's many accomplishments under Pelton's leadership, the university raised $131 million through its capital campaign; the Centers for Excellence and Willamette Academy were created; many capital projects were successfully completed including construction of Ford Hall, Willamette's new LEED Gold-certified, 42,000 square-foot interdisciplinary academic building, and Kaneko Commons, an undergraduate residential learning community; and the number of undergraduate faculty was increased by 25 percent, improving the student-faculty ratio, fostering high-impact pedagogy and supporting faculty research and scholarship opportunities.

Additionally, Willamette has increased its regional and national reach and is ranked in the top tier of the nation's liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report, Washington Monthly and The Princeton Review.

The university has also been recognized nationally on numerous occasions for the high numbers of Fulbright scholars and Peace Corps volunteers among its graduates as well as for its achievements in sustainability and its commitment to access and affordability. This year, Willamette was one of only six institutions nationwide to receive the Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll Presidential Award, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement.

"Dr. Pelton has raised the profile of Willamette in every important aspect of a university's reputation," said Steven E. Wynne, chair of the Willamette University Board of Trustees. "He has provided vision, inspiration and leadership to create a more vibrant intellectual community that is deeply committed to the values expressed in our motto, ‘Not unto ourselves alone are we born.' His calm, confident and passionate stewardship has brought Willamette to an admirable place."

Pelton's agreement to continue his service to Willamette University through May 2011 gives the university the opportunity to form a search committee, comprising students, faculty, staff, trustees and alumni to begin a national recruitment for his successor, with the goal of the having a new president in place prior to the start of the 2011-12 academic year. 

"I look forward to the coming year with confidence that we will ultimately select as Willamette's 23rd president someone who will continue to build on the distinguished collective legacy that reflects the vision and leadership of the 22 presidents who have come before them," Wynne said.

"I love Willamette and will miss the friends I have made in this community and beyond," Pelton said. "I know that, in the years to come, I will reflect upon my time at Willamette with warmth, joy and a sense of accomplishment."

A system has been set up to incorporate feedback from alumni and other members of the community, as well as provide a go-to spot for search process updates. Visit the presidential search webpage to submit your input and get more information.