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Thursday, December 3, 2020
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Three Voluntary Early Retirements

Dear Emerson Community,

As you now know, several long serving members of the Emerson community have elected to accept the College’s early retirement program. I am enormously grateful for their service to the College. Their remarkable achievements are made even more remarkable by the genius of their talents and their enduring commitment to our commonwealth of learning.

We will miss every one of them, and we wish each the very best on their new beginnings. At a later time, we will have an opportunity to properly celebrate their inestimable contributions to the College. In the meantime, please join me in expressing our deepest gratitude for all that they have done to improve, renew and strengthen our Campus on the Common in ways that are not always visible or properly acknowledged.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to remark on three members of the President’s Council, who have decided to retire early. These senior administrators account for a combined seventy-seven years of service to Emerson College.

Christine Hughes, Vice President and General Counsel, has served in this position for sixteen years. She supervises the Office of the General Counsel and the Emerson Police Department with outstanding skill and sensitivity.

As General Counsel, she has managed all legal affairs of the College to reduce risk of litigation and liability, provided legal advice and counsel to the President, the Board of Trustees, Vice Presidents, and senior administrators and supervised outside legal counsel. 

Christine has extensive legal experience, most of which has been in higher education law. Prior to joining Emerson in 2004, she was lead counsel to the University of Washington (Seattle, WA) and a University Attorney at Harvard University. She began her legal career at the Boston law firms Goodwin and WilmerHale, where she rose to junior partner.

Much of the work that she does to great effect is invisible to most members of our community because she ably manages difficult, knotty and complex matters before they become public or otherwise find their way into the media. While she represents the College, she is also attentive to those who work, study and live at Emerson because she understands that the law – especially higher education law – is people-centered. She is fair and fair-minded. Indeed, it is her “people first” orientation that has made her so very effective at Emerson. She would agree with Cicero who wrote that “the good of the people is the greatest law.”

She has been a knowledgeable, wise and gifted confidante, who has had the very useful knack of telling me not what she thought I wanted to hear but rather what she thought I needed to hear in order to become a more effective president.

Christine will step down from her office in late October.

Meredith Ainbinder, Assistant Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, will succeed her as Vice President and General Counsel. Prior to coming to Emerson, Meredith was a partner at an intellectual property law firm and the head of North and South America litigation for Osram Sylvania, a multi-national corporation. Long active in the legal community, Meredith has spent more than a decade on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, including serving as President. She is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, where she sits on the Membership and Members Services Committee.

I look forward to working with Meredith in her new role.

William (Bill) Gilligan, Vice President for Information Technology, began his career at Emerson thirty-six years ago as an Assistant Professor in 1984, before which he was a member of the affiliated faculty for two years. He was recruited to Emerson to create a computing curriculum and develop demand for it, a heroic endeavor not without its challenges at a College more noted for liberal learning, arts and communication than number theory and differential equations.

He has served with distinction, imagination and enormous skill. He oversees several areas that are critical to student learning, faculty teaching and research and staff work: Information Technology, including Enterprise Systems, Infrastructure, User Services (Help Desk, Media Services, Lab Operations); Instructional Technology Group (transferred to Academic Affairs in 2015); Media Technologies & Production (MTP), including Emerson Channel, TRF Operations, Equipment Distribution Center; TRF Engineering, Emerson Productions; and WERS – 88.9 FM, the premier student-run college radio station in the USA.

Among his many achievements, he facilitated the President’s Campus Task Force on Diversity in 2008, worked closely with other senior administrators, architectural firm Elkus Manfredi, engineers and technology vendors to design, build and equip two professional-quality television studios in the new Tufte Performance and Production Center as well as collaborated with technology vendors to design, build and equip professional-quality Journalism facilities, including a television studio, control room, newsroom and classroom/computer lab in refurbished space.

His is a very big job – vital and essential to the College’s mission. 

Bill’s many talents also include his well-known and well-placed disarming humor, wit and gentle satire. We shall miss that, too.

However, after thirty-six years of continuous service to the College, he deserves the opportunity to begin a new chapter in a life well-spent, confident that his work here recalls the adage that “true happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.”

Bill plans to step down from his office at the end of the calendar year, during which time we will develop a succession plan for his office.

Margaret (Peggy) Ings, Vice President of Government and Community Relations, is well known in Boston and throughout the Commonwealth. She has earned the trust of neighborhood groups and government agencies, which, in turn, has made it possible for us to move forward on a series of unprecedented and historic building projects that have, over the years, transformed our Campus on the Common. 

In 1992, two years before Peggy’s appointment as Associate Vice President, the College made the very bold decision to relocate its facilities from Beacon Street to downtown Boston. The first phase of this move, which included the purchase of the Ansin Building, the resurrection and repurposing of buildings on Boylston Street as well as refurbishing the College’s three signature public facing theatres, concluded in 2010, when the Paramount Center opened. The second phase, a ten-year project, to connect the College more self-consciously to the surrounding communities, has come to an end.

During this historic period, the new Campus on the Common as well as the faculty and student population more than tripled in size. The College created new living, learning environments for students, restored landmark facilities, and established a sense of place for our community and the City. Our vision of the College was deeply grounded in the notion that thoughtfully designed buildings and spaces can better connect the members of our community and shape society.

This stunning and nearly three-decade effort could not have been achieved without Peggy’s tireless work with countless governmental and regulatory agencies. As I often say, there is the Mayor of Boston, an elected position, and then there is Peggy Ings, the unelected and unofficial Mayor, who re-vitalized the downtown corridor to the benefit of both Boston and our College.

Peggy’s reach is transcontinental: she also serves as the liaison between the College’s Los Angeles campus and LA county, including local neighborhood organizations and governmental agencies.

I am very grateful for Peggy’s many years of purposeful leadership. She exemplifies an often-repeated quote by Daniel Burnham, the great Boston and New York City urban architect: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir [people’s] blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.”

Peggy plans to step down at the end of the calendar year, during which time we will develop a succession plan for her office.

Please join me in wishing all of our retirees the very best in their transition plans.

Sincerely,
Lee Pelton

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