Unity Environmental University President Melik Peter Khoury is shown outside Raymond Hall at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, where some operations of the college have been shifted, in 2021. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer, File

As the board chair, I’ve witnessed the remarkable transformation of Unity Environmental University under Melik Peter Khoury’s visionary leadership. He turned a struggling college in rural Maine into an international success story with innovative and affordable experiential online programs focused on environmental stewardship.

These programs now serve over 7,500 students, including diverse and nontraditional learners. Impressively, the flexibility and accessibility provided by these programs have helped Unity’s 50-year self-disclosed diverse student population jump from 8% to 23%.

This is a remarkable achievement given the current state of higher education. Fewer students are choosing full-time residential programming, as evidenced by the 91 U.S. private colleges that have closed, merged with another school or announced plans to close since 2016. This is important context when discussing changes made at the institution.

While all this positivity has been unfolding, most people are likely unaware of the constant, personal attacks aimed at Dr. Khoury by a few former faculty, alums and their circle of friends and relatives, as well as the social media harassment of students who have gone online to celebrate their Unity experience.

It crops back up from time to time in the media with opinions like this: “Letter to the editor: Leadership record at Unity is cause for concern” (July 20). However, Unity Environmental University is thriving today because of President Khoury, not despite him. He and his employees have, and will continue to have, the complete support, appreciation and respect of the full board of trustees.

Sharon Reishus

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