Deana L. Porterfield

Deana L. Porterfield

Deana L. Porterfield

President, Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary

Years in current role: 7

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The opportunity to cast a vision for the future of Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary. A vision that creates opportunities for students at all levels through the transformational education provided through our faculty and staff.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?

Continuing to move forward within the challenges of the pandemic. This past year was about judgment calls and moving forward within uncertainty. There were no “right” decisions, just decisions based on the information you had at the moment. This challenged trust and community in deep ways, pushing each person to find ways to connect. People choose Roberts and Northeastern because of the community and when that is challenged it requires a reframing of what true community looks like.

What do you see as the biggest changes in the higher education industry in the next 3-5 years?

Higher education will need to offer programs that are accessible, affordable and relevant. We have shown that accessibility through online education can be done, but we need to also meet the other needs within the community. Roberts is a place that is founded on our belief that character is at the core of our education. Character and “human skills” are critical to the future of our workplace and community. Offering programs and services that help anyone in our community better themselves through educational opportunities, by earning either degrees or certifications, will be critical to the future of our society.

What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?

Locally, I currently serve on the Rochester Chamber of Commerce, the Palmer Family of Companies Board and I chair the Rochester Area College President’s Group. These organizations, along with a number of regional and national boards, are important because they provide opportunities to serve our greater community and create partnerships across the region.

What college class that you haven’t taken would you be most interested in taking and why?

In the past few years I have wanted to take a course in the Theology and Social Justice Program from Northeastern Seminary. My hope would be to find new ways of advocating and supporting those around me within the tensions of our faith and culture. I would also love to take a pottery course. During my undergraduate work I was never able to find the time to explore this passion and think it would be a wonderful opportunity at this stage in my life.