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President Pelton Leaving to Helm Boston Foundation

We wanted to share with you some bittersweet news. Dr. Lee Pelton has informed the Board that he will be leaving his position as President of Emerson College at the end of the academic year in June to accept a new role as CEO and President of The Boston Foundation.

The Board of Trustees Chair and Lee wanted to express their thoughts jointly to the Emerson Community. Below are letters from Jeffrey Greenhawt, Board of Trustees Chair, followed by Lee.

Dear Emerson Community,

I am writing this with mixed emotions.

We have been so fortunate to have Lee as our president for the past 10 years. He has transformed our College into a hub for arts, communication, and the liberal arts, not just in Boston, but on the global stage.

Lee is deeply thoughtful, empathetic, and has a unique ability to lead in an inclusive way that brings everyone – faculty, staff, students, alumni and parents – together as part of the mission of Emerson. He has been a trusted mentor and friend to more people than we can count. Lee has also been unafraid to speak up and speak out about fundamental issues of fairness, justice, and equality in all areas of our society. These are the values that we as an Emerson community hold so dear.

It is those same values that bring him to The Boston Foundation.  While we will miss him, we support him on his next endeavor to make our home in Boston a more just and equitable city.

We begin our search for a new president immediately, and will soon be forming a search committee to lead that process. Fortunately, we have time to conduct a thoughtful and thorough search. We will find a new president to continue the progress we have made and lead Emerson through the next phase of our growth. We will provide you with regular updates on that process moving forward.

But for today, on behalf of the Board and the entire Emerson Community, we just want to say “thank you” to Lee. Lee will still be here for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year, so hopefully many of you will still have the opportunity to thank him personally.


Jeffrey Greenhawt
Board of Trustees Chair


Dear Emerson Community,

First and foremost, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Trustees, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters of this extraordinary commonwealth of learning. Serving the Emerson community over the past 10 years has been one of the most inspiring and transformational experiences of my career.

It goes without saying that my decision to leave my position as your president does not come easily. I have had every intention of spending the next several years at Emerson, and over the past 8 months, I have been looking forward to a time that we could all be together again on campus, in person.

At the same time, the triple pandemic of COVID-19, economic devastation, and the public exposure of systemic racial disparities that have long plagued our country have thrown the deep inequities, right here in Boston and across our country, into sharper relief.  We know that this particular moment requires us to work as part of a broader partnership with others to dismantle structural racism, while also continuing critical work to improve LGBTQ+ and gender equity. We must not let this moment pass without also working to strengthen cradle-to-college education, improve access to health care, close income gaps, create access to quality jobs, combat ableism, protect the rights of immigrants, and so much more.

We are called to seize the moment, to help write a new chapter for Boston and for future generations that will follow. It is that calling and this moment that have led me to accept this position leading The Boston Foundation.

I believe the Foundation has enormous potential to address these inequities and make a difference for people long overlooked by society, and I intend to do just that. I hope that I will make you proud.

I often say to our students: “Emerson is the place where you come to be the person you were meant to be.” Happily, Emerson has been the place where I’ve become the person that I was meant to be.

I have learned so much from all of you. Emerson is a better place because of you. And I know that it will be an even better place because of all of you.

I look forward to spending the remainder of the academic year with this community that has nurtured and taught me so very much. I hope to speak to many of you directly before I depart.


Lee Pelton
Emerson College President

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