UNITY, Maine — Dr. Melik Peter Khoury was appointed Friday to serve as Unity College’s president, the college announced Friday.
The Unity College board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Khoury as its 11th permanent president.
Khoury has served as Unity College’s president in an interim role since Jan. 3, when he was appointed to an initial 30-month contract. At the time of that appointment, Khoury was serving as executive vice president and chief academic officer.
In an Aug. 12 letter to the college community announcing Khoury’s appointment, board of trustees Chairman John Newlin cited Khoury’s leadership results and bold vision as key factors in making the appointment.
“A year ago we set some very high expectations for Dr. Khoury,” Newlin stated. “The truth is, Melik and the team he has assembled has met and significantly exceeded those lofty goals.”
“Three straight years of record enrollments, significant increases in revenue and budget, and consistent faculty and staff raises — proof points like these make Unity the envy of other small, private colleges in an era when small colleges are closing at an alarming rate,” Newlin said.
Unity announced earlier this week that it expects to have the largest incoming class and largest overall enrollment this fall. College officials predicted that more than 700 students will arrive on campus when classes begin Aug. 29. Last year, the headcount was 665, a record for enrollment.
“It surprises some people, who think we’re just a little private college in rural Maine,” Khoury said in the news release earlier this week. “The reality is, there is a hunger out there for well-rounded education, grounded in science and informed by the humanities and liberal arts. By offering small class sizes, individual mentoring, transdisciplinary research, and hands-on field work, we are in high demand.
In Friday’s announcement of Khoury’s appointment, Newlin said: “The challenges facing higher education are an invitation to reinvigorate our institutions. I have been travelling around the state and country, meeting with corporations, lawmakers, foundations, and leaders of higher education, and I have been inviting them to partner with Unity College to reimagine sustainability and higher education for a post-partisan era. Some are taken aback by the boldness of our vision and our big tent approach, but most seem to find it refreshing.”
“Thanks in no small part to Dr. Khoury, Unity College is now in the enviable position to imagine the future of America’s Environmental College from a position of real strength,” Newlin said. “For well over three years, he has demonstrated the relentless discipline to complete infrastructure, invest in personnel, institutionalize sustainability, commit unapologetically to student success, and realize a Unity College that promises financial viability into the future.”
The news release quotes faculty and students about Khoury’s appointment.
“Melik has been a student favorite since he came to Unity,” said Gunnar Norback, Unity College student government president. “Whether students are playing soccer, making presentations at the Student Conference, or eating in the cafeteria, Melik joins in and always wants to know what students are thinking and how they’re doing.”
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 and chief financial officer. In 2015, Khoury added chief academic officer to his portfolio of responsibilities before becoming interim president in January.
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, Missouri; 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 a director of residence life. Prior to committing to a life of service in higher education, Khoury worked overseas in international business.