Former New England College (NEC) President Michele Perkins is suing the school, alleging gender discrimination and emotional distress after being fired earlier this year, New Hampshire Public Radio reported.
In the suit, Dr. Perkins –who led the school from 2008-2022 before becoming chancellor in September 2022 – claims she was unexpectedly released by the school during an Apr. 4 online meeting.
“I was stunned to be dismissed on a Zoom call with other people on the call with no advance warning and no reason,” Perkins said. “And so this lawsuit is the only way I know that current leadership can be held accountable for their actions.”
Perkins alleges that the way she was fired – “humiliating and crude” – was meant to demoralize and “professionally decapitate her.” Multiple school leaders were present during the meeting where current NEC President Dr. Wayne Lesperance told her that “it’s just not working out.”
She attributed the case to misogyny and a culture of gender bias among certain top school officials.
"Due in large part to the efforts and contributions put forth by Dr. Perkins during her long tenure of service, New England College is firmly positioned on the national map and the positive impact of her stewardship continues to be appreciated by the NEC community,” said Lex Scourby, chair of the NEC board of trustees. “While we are disappointed by recent developments, our first priority will always be our students and the continued delivery of high-quality education.”
Perkins is seeking damages and a jury trial.
“Frankly, it would be a betrayal of everything I've worked for and the hopes and dreams of the younger generations of women if I had kept silent about this, so to me it was my professional and ethical obligation,” Perkins said.