The Unity College Board of Trustees has announced that Dr. Melik Peter Khoury is the new President-Elect of Unity College.
The board voted unanimously Aug. 14 to appoint Khoury to a 30-month interim appointment as president starting Jan. 3, 2016.
Dr. Stephen Mulkey, Unity College’s current president, announced his retirement from the college in June. He will remain president until Dr. Khoury assumes the presidency in January.
In an Aug. 15 letter to the college community, Board of Trustees Chairman Bruce Nickerson cited Khoury’s leadership style and results as key factors in the appointment. “His passion and enthusiasm has been an essential driver of positive change and has played a critical role in crafting and implementing the Unity College Strategic Plan,” Nickerson said.
Continued progress on the Strategic Plan will be at the top of Khoury’s agenda in January.
“This appointment reflects an unequivocal endorsement from the Board of Trustees, and a deep appreciation for Dr. Khoury’s genuine character, integrity, achievements, and reputation,” Nickerson said. “We have full faith he will successfully lead Unity College in stewarding the ongoing execution of our Strategic Plan.”
Khoury said he felt “equal measures humbled and exhilarated” about the appointment.
“Dr. Mulkey has firmly established Unity College on the national stage. Now it’s up to us to perform,” he said. “Broader recognition for the college gives us the opportunity to serve more — and more kinds of — students looking to become the next generation of environmental leaders.”
“As we continue to build a beacon for national sustainability here in Maine, we expect that more and more individuals and foundations will view an investment in Unity College as an investment in preparing tomorrow’s environmental leaders,” Khoury said.
Nickerson said Khoury’s appointment comes amid a successful track record in the current administration during the last several years.
“With three straight years of enrollment growth, dozens of new campus infrastructure improvements, and heightened interest in our unique curriculum from prospective students and the academic community, there’s never been a brighter point in our history than this, our 50th anniversary year,” he said.
Unity College was recently in the news for receving a $200,000 gift from an anonymous donor. The college is poised to unveil a brand-new residence hall with state-of-the-art energy efficiency features Friday.
The $200,000 donation is intended to raise matching funds for a comprehensive marketing study, an initiative the college is calling “Project Connect.”
Khoury said he sees the gift as confirmation of the direction of the college.
“President Mulkey got us in the game, but we have to finish,” said Khoury, a former soccer coach. “Funders give with the expectation that we will finish strong.”
At least one alum is expressing support for Khoury.
“Dr. Khoury’s outstanding leadership within the Unity College administrative team has resulted in transformational changes I haven’t seen in more than 40 years,” said Marc Bane ‘73, a newly appointed member of the Board of Trustees. “He has played a major role in setting Unity on a course of financial stability and sustainable growth while rekindling the spirit and enthusiasm of Unity alumni.”
Mulkey also voiced full support of Khoury’s appointment.
“Over the last few years, I have come to know Dr. Khoury as one of the most effective leaders in my 30-year experience in higher education,” Mulkey said. “The scope of his accomplishments reflects Dr. Khoury’s deep understanding of every facet of higher education, and he holds himself to the highest standards of integrity. Melik has the utmost commitment to the distinctive mission of Unity College.”
Khoury said he sees challenges facing higher education through the lens of opportunity.
“Not-for-profit higher education is experiencing industry-changing disruption, and students and parents are demanding to see the value, as well they should,” Khoury said. “Unity College is in a unique position to lead industry change, not only in sustainability education but in higher education more generally.”
Asked what is different about Unity College, Khoury offers a list: “One, Unity has an environmental mission that the world needs and increasingly understands; two, Unity has a faculty committed to results-oriented teaching and research; three, Unity has leadership that has demonstrated how to successfully steward and invest college resources.”
“People outside of Unity College think I’m joking when I say our goal is simply to change the world. But we’re doing just that,” he said. “One student at a time.”
Khoury has served in progressively broader leadership roles since arriving at Unity College in early 2013: first, as Senior Vice President for External Affairs, then Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer. Earlier this year, Khoury added Chief Academic Officer to his portfolio of responsibilities.
Khoury came to Unity from Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa, where he held the position of Senior Vice President for Strategic Positioning. Khoury previously served as Vice President for Enrollment Management and College Marketing at Culver Stockton College in Canton, Mo.; Vice President for Enrollment Management at Paul Smith’s College in New York; and Director of Admissions at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
During his long and varied career in higher education, Khoury has held a full-time faculty appointment, coached men’s and women’s soccer, and worked as director of residence life. Prior to committing to a life of service in higher education, Khoury worked overseas in international business.