Dr. Wayne F. Lesperance Jr.: Diversity Enriches Education

NH Latino News

“We are much more representative of everyday American kids and international students as well,” said Dr. Wayne F. Lesperance, Jr., President of New England College (NEC), in an interview with New Hampshire Magazine. “So, seeing that diversity of background come in, whether it’s racial, ethnic, gender equity coming in … it’s a very rewarding and relevant change,” he says. “For no other reason, it changes what happens in a classroom. When you have people in a classroom that have different life experiences, different values, different religions, different origin stories, it’s enriching, it makes every conversation in a classroom that much better. I’m proud that this community embraces that.”

Dr. Lesperance was recently named a leader in the Granite State as part of NH Business Review’s 2024 New Hampshire 200 list.

“Today, about 33% of our students are students of color, and that includes an awful lot of Hispanic students. I was the first kid in my family to go to college,” he says. “Education was incredibly important to my grandparents and parents, and sending me to college was sort of a community effort by the family.”

Dr. Lesperance was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He arrived at NEC in 1999 to serve as Assistant Professor of Political Science. He transitioned to NEC’s administration in 2016 when he became Dean of Residential Undergraduate Programs. He has been the Center for Civic Engagement Director, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Provost.

Dr. Lesperance became interim president in September of 2022 and was named president in December of that year. On Saturday, September 30, 2023, he officially took the podium as New England College’s 16th president and first Hispanic president. 

Dr. Wayne F. Lesperance, Jr., President of New England College at his inauguration ceremony, September 2023. Photo Courtesy: NEC

Lesperance acknowledged and thanked those who have played an essential role in his life at the inauguration ceremony held in the Rosamond Page Putnam Center for the Performing Arts on NEC’s campus in Henniker. “I’ve always believed in the adage that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and there are many shoulders in my case,” Lesperance told the audience. “From mi familia in Puerto Rico who taught me curiosity, respect and courage to my high school teachers who instilled in me a passion for America’s civic heritage, from college professors to my wife who is my rock and my daughter who is my joy. I thank them all for their support, encouragement, and generosity.”

Lesperance is passionate about increasing on-campus diversity, particularly regarding race and socioeconomic background. His personal experiences closely mirror those of many of his students, allowing him to create effective support systems that cater to their needs and those of their families.

“There are a lot of families like mine that don’t have a lot of money or a history of educational attainment, especially at the graduate or doctoral level. And to be able to talk about that, as somebody who came from that background, I think it’s encouraging for others to pursue those opportunities.”

Dr. Lesperance resides in Cogswell House in Henniker with his wife, Stephanie, daughter, Grace, and their two dogs, Nero and Emmitt.

Cover Photo: Dr. Wayne F. Lesperance, Jr., President of New England College. Credit: NEC

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