Wayne Lesperance, Interim Dean of Undergraduate Programs, joined the teaching staff at NEC in July of 1999 as a Political Science professor.
“I chose NEC for two reasons,” said Lesperance. “One, as I mentioned above, to be a political science professor in New Hampshire allows me to be in the state where the Super Bowl of politics takes place every four years. The second reason is I wanted to be part of a smaller community where I could make a difference in the lives of my students. I had no idea how much of a difference they would make in my life. And that’s what keeps me here after so many years.”
Though you may not recognize Lesperance’s face, unless you’ve had him as a professor, you have definitely been to at least one of his events on campus. Lesperance was the one responsible for bringing all of the presidential candidates on campus to speak to the community. I had the opportunity to ask Lesperance exactly how he was able to pull off such an amazing task, and in the process got to know more about him.
Having all of the presidential candidates come and speak is a privilege that many colleges can’t say they’ve had, but Lesperance made it happen for us.
“One of the reasons I came to teach at NEC in 1999 was because New Hampshire is host to the nation’s first presidential primary. So, from my very first semester I began developing relationships with all of the people who work on, run, and support presidential candidates from both parties. Over time those relationships have led to our ability to host candidates on campus.”
Not only has Lesperance had connections that have allowed him to bring people from the White House to our campus, but to bring people from our campus to the White House.
“We’ve also been able to have our students intern for them and even get jobs on the campaigns,” said Lesperance. One recent graduate was lucky enough to have a White House internship. And for me the exciting part isn’t the candidate visiting, it’s the student who gets to introduce the candidate, the students who have a small group meeting with them, and the possibility of new relationships forming between our students, the candidates, and their staff.”
Knowing Lesperance has all of these connections, I was curious to know who’s the coolest person he’s met so far.
“In my time at NEC,” he responded, “I’ve met just about every presidential candidate running since the 2000 election. In some cases I met them multiple times. If I had to pick favorites, I’d have to say probably Sen. John McCain, because he was the first presidential candidate I had come to NEC in 1999. Bill Clinton was also exciting to meet – we had a beer in Daniel’s Restaurant in town.”
Lesperance has not only had political figures come to campus, but also journalists like Bob Woodward and Ted Koppel, as well as James Pindell of the Boston Globe.
Lesperance has also had people like Drew Barrymore, Rob Lowe, and Chuck Norris come to campus in the past and speak.
After finding out who his favorite person to visit was, I asked him who he’d like most to come to speak at NEC. He stated that he’d love to bring Thomas Jefferson back to life and sit down and have a chat with him because he is a big fan of Jefferson’s writing and way of thinking. He’d like to have people like the Pope, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Richard Haas, and Diana Watson. Most importantly, whom he’d really love to come to speak is us.
“If I could pull anything off it would be to fill the Great Room with NEC students who wanted to talk about what’s happening in our communities, our country, the world,” he said. “I’d want to have a monthly meeting of the minds where we debated, laughed, cried, learned, and committed ourselves to restoring hope in our country.”
This would be his dream, all you have to do is pick a day and he’ll be there.