Dr. Michele D. Perkins, President
Michele Perkins became the 15th president of New England College in 2007, after serving as senior vice president and vice president for enrollment. Since then, NEC has more than quadrupled its enrollment to over 4,000 students in multiple program delivery models, including on-campus, on-location, low-residency, and online programs. Under her leadership, in 2019, NEC successfully completed a merger with the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, now the Institute of Art and Design at New England College.
She led the founding of NEC’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies, which currently offers diverse master’s and doctoral programs on campus, online, and in various remote settings, including new programs with Dallas College in Texas. NEC is now nationally recognized for its commitment to civic engagement; experiential learning in its undergraduate and graduate programs; and growth and success of its Division III athletic program, which now enjoys multiple conference championships every year.
Dr. Perkins initiated and led the College’s first capital campaign, Bridge to the Future, which raised over $42 million, more than twice its initial goal. Notably, the campaign helped fund the 19,000-square-foot John Lyons Center (a multi-purpose academic center) and the Rosamond Page Putnam Center for the Performing Arts, featuring a 350-seat thrust stage theatre.
A hallmark of Dr. Perkins’s presidency continues to be financial stewardship, characterized by balanced budgets, routine surpluses, management efficiencies, a careful accumulation of long-term assets in physical facilities, and an endowment that has grown fourfold to $26.5 million. All of this has been accomplished while holding debt to a manageable level.
Dr. Perkins holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Theatre and Performance Studies from Northwestern University and Emerson College, respectively. She earned her doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania.
She teaches on occasion at NEC, providing voice workshops for the Theatre program and Organization and Administration coursework in the Higher Education Administration master’s program. Early in her career, Dr. Perkins taught speech and drama at Emerson College and Curry College.
Dr. Perkins continues to perform today and has a keen interest in Shakespeare and solo performances of poetry. She has performed at the College’s MFA in Creative Writing residencies and at various venues in New England. She has been a member of the Milton Ensemble, a readers’ theatre group dedicated to performing all books of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and a past board member and company member of the Champlain Arts Theatre Company. She served for many years as a judge for the New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud state finals competition.
Prior to serving NEC, 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 admission marketing strategies, enrollment management, and long-range planning. She was a co-founder of the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP).
Dr. Perkins currently serves on several boards and advisory groups in higher education. She is Chair of the New Hampshire College and University Council, Chair of New Hampshire Campus Compact, and Immediate Past Chair of the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the New England Council; a member of the Board of Directors of Project Pericles; and is a longstanding board member of the New England Board of Higher Education, a gubernatorial appointment. Dr. Perkins is a former board member and executive committee member of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). She recently accepted an appointment to co-lead the CIC Presidents Governance Academy, which is held annually at the CIC Presidents Institute.
Dr. Perkins and her husband live in Henniker, New Hampshire, and their son is a graduate of Colby College.