|Robin Perrin retires after 30 years at Pinkerton.|
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- When Robin Perrin walked into a job as the editor of Pinkerton Academy’s alumni magazine 30 years ago, it was without any knowledge of the school’s nearly 200-year history.
“Honestly, the alumni board was totally amazed that the academy would hire somebody that wasn’t an alumnus,” said Dick West of Contoocook, a past president of the Pinkerton Academy Alumni Association. “It was a big shock to us, and a shock to (Robin), when he got the job.”
“Robin has worked very hard to get a background in what the academy is and what the traditions are, and he’s fully steeped in that now,” West said. “He believes in Pinkerton traditions, even more than some Pinkerton people.”
But after a career spanning three decades, Perrin retires at the end of this month.
“It’s a very polar experience,” said Perrin, who lives in Auburn. “I’m excited about the freedom I’ll have, but on the other hand, I’m leaving an institution and a lot of people that I am very fond of. It has been very difficult to think of how I can not come here every day to be a part of the Pinkerton experience.”
As alumni coordinator, Perrin was first responsible for putting together the quarterly magazine and organizing alumni reunions and other events.
Within a few years, Perrin’s role was expanded to include press relations. He had earlier worked as a journalist for several years in Manchester.
“At the time, Pinkerton didn’t have the best relationship with the media,” Perrin said. “But once I explained the benefits of being transparent and of being a good communicator, things started to change relatively quickly.”
He has been involved with the Public Relations Society of America for several years, serving as the Northern New England chapter president in the early 1980s and on the national board in the mid-’90s.
By 1983, Perrin was Pinkerton’s student council adviser, a role he held for 13 years. He was named New Hampshire Student Council Adviser of the Year in 1994.
Perrin and his wife, Kathleen, also co-coached Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination teams for many years while their son, Scott, was at Pinkerton. The Perrins have taken seven Pinkerton teams to the World Championships, once winning a global award for creativity.
Perrin is now considered Pinkerton’s “relations manager,” handling alumni affairs, press relations and fundraising.
But he said the work he most enjoys is meeting alumni and collecting their stories.
“Once you’re the alumni director, you talk to people who have graduated from the school even 70 years ago,” he said. “Inevitably, they all have a story, and some of them are so poignant that they’re impossible to forget.”
“My favorites are the mischievous ones,” Perrin continued.
“There are stories of students climbing up on the clock tower and distilling alcohol in the chemistry labs and bringing skunks to school. These are the stories that are told over and over again at the hundreds of class reunions I’ve been to.”
Perrin credits former Pinkerton teacher Olive Abbott with passing to him much of the school’s institutional memory. Abbott retired from in the 1990s and continued serving as the school’s historian for several years.
And in turn, Perrin said he’s made an effort to impart his knowledge to Anne Parker, who has been working in the alumni office for 10 years and graduated from Pinkerton herself in 1986.
“I really count on Robin for advice about a lot of things, professional and personal,” Parker said. “He has a nice way of helping you without being condescending. He has been a great teacher and become a very good friend.”
In what he called one of his greatest honors, the Pinkerton Academy Alumni Association named Perrin an honorary alumnus a few years ago.
“(The award) made my emotional bond with the school even stronger,” he said. “I had made positive contributions to the school and people in the school signaled back that they appreciated what I had done.”
And while Perrin will be stepping back from his post next week, he said he hopes to stay involved at the school as long as he’s needed.
“Many Pinkerton alumni are welcomed back to campus with open arms,” Perrin said. “I hope to be one of those who are accepted with such enthusiasm.”