Michele D. Perkins, Ed.D.
New England College
As the fifteenth president of New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, Michele D. Perkins has direct responsibility for a $32 million operating budget, nearly 400 employees, and the recruitment and retention of 1,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. Dr. Perkins has taught in the College’s master’s program in Higher Education Administration.
Since her appointment as president in 2007, Dr. Perkins’ tenure has been highlighted by renewed strategic and campus planning, curriculum innovation, compensation review, financial well-being, and enhanced external support. She is also leading the College into its first-ever comprehensive capital campaign. With her focus on an integrated process of optimal enrollment planning, Dr. Perkins has led New England College to the highest enrollment in College history. Her commitment to educational programming that emphasizes civic engagement and experiential learning has earned NEC national recognition.
Dr. Perkins began her service to NEC in 2001 as Vice President for Enrollment. Later, as Senior Vice President, her responsibilities included all areas of admission, financial aid, student accounts, student development (including residential life, athletics, health and counseling, safety, career counseling, and academic support) registrar, and public information. She was instrumental in founding the college’s program in graduate and professional studies offering online, on-campus, and on-location graduate education in schools and businesses throughout New Hampshire and Maine.
Prior to her tenure at New England College, Dr. Perkins held positions in admissions and enrollment management at White Pines College, New York Law School, Trinity College, and Emerson College. As an independent consultant, she has worked with colleges and universities across the country on a wide range of projects focused on recruitment, retention, and strategic planning. Dr. Perkins received her B.S.S. degree from Northwestern University, an M.A. from Emerson College, and an Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Executive Doctorate Program in Higher Education Management.
Over the past few years, while the nation has weathered the effects of devastating economic downturn, President Perkins has demonstrated outstanding leadership ability in managing the academic, financial, and personnel functions of the College. While other institutions cancelled building projects, Dr. Perkins broke ground on the construction of a $1.5 million dollar artificial turf field funded entirely by corporate sponsorship and fundraising. More recently, the College has developed and marketed five new graduate degree programs that address important educational needs of the business community. With a firm grounding in the College’s mission, a conservative approach to budget concerns, the successful cultivation of funding resources, and careful attention to the institution’s long range strategic objectives, President Perkins has led the College though the economic downturn without layoffs or program cuts and without compromising the quality of the educational experience at NEC.
According to a 2005 study by the American Council on Education, approximately 23% of college presidents in the United States are women. New Hampshire is currently running a bit higher than the national average with 7 out of 22 female college presidents or nearly 30%. In her doctoral research on the office of the president, Dr. Perkins has sought to understand the complex demands of the role of the college’s chief executive and to increase access to the office for aspiring women. Her leadership role at New England College has served as a role model for many female students, staff, and faculty at the College and on a national level through her work on numerous boards and committees. Since being named president of NEC, Dr. Perkins has increased the number of women on the college’s Board of Trustees. Her academic and professional accomplishments have motivated many to pursue advanced degrees and seek professional challenges. She has made herself accessible to undergraduate students by placing representatives on strategic committees and planning groups, through monthly meetings, and by her support of campus programming, athletic events, and academic and co-curricular activities. And she has encouraged staff members to take advantage of the college’s generous tuition remission program.
Throughout her career, Dr. Perkins has demonstrated a commitment to active participation in the advancement of professional organizations and the local community. She was the co-founder of the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals and a board member of the Champlain Arts Theatre Company. Since 2004, she has been a company member of the Milton ensemble dedicated to performing all books of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. More recently, she served as a judge for the New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud Competition state finals.
Dr. Perkins is a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Association of Governing Boards, Campus Compact for New Hampshire, Council of Independent Colleges, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the National Association of Independent Colleges, New England Board of Higher Education, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Dr. Perkins’ leadership philosophy could be described as the combination of a deep and genuine commitment to New England College, a clear vision of her goals for the College, and a firm command of the business practices that are required to realize that vision. As a leader, she demonstrates daily the ability to implement successful strategies and challenges the College staff to pursue ambitious goals through a coordinated team effort. Leading a non-profit institution that is driven primarily by tuition revenue, Dr. Perkins is called upon to develop a national approach to recruitment, retention, and financial management that addresses an evolving marketplace and unpredictable resources.