James and Susan Peterson Receive Greater Gustavus Award

Posted on June 11th, 2008 by

James and Susan Peterson received the 2008 Greater Gustavus Award.

James and Susan Peterson received the 2008 Greater Gustavus Award.

Gustavus Adolphus College President James Peterson ’64 and his wife, the Rev. Susan Pepin Peterson ’65 received the Greater Gustavus Award Saturday, May 31 during the Alumni Banquet as part of the College’s 2008 Reunion Weekend.

The Greater Gustavus Award is the highest honor given by the College’s Alumni Association and is awarded to those “who by deed, have notably advanced and aided Gustavus Adolphus College.”

Susan Peterson is Senior Pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul — a member of the Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations. She served on the College’s board of trustees from 1988 to 1997 and was reelected in 2001.

During his five years at the helm of Gustavus, James Peterson has made contributions that will endure far into the future and has drawn College constituencies together in fruitful collaboration toward a common mission. During Peterson’s tenure, the College has added:

  • The John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning, which focuses on faculty development and student-faculty collaborative research;
  • The Glen and LaVonne Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation, dedicated to leadership and interdisciplinary partnerships to model environmental sustainability;
  • A new, 2,500-seat football stadium and new athletic fields; and
  • A new academic leadership model led by a provost, Mary E. Morton, and two academic deans, Eric Eliason and Mariangela Maguire.

During his presidential tenure, the College achieved significant fundraising momentum, consistently balanced budgets, and the endowment surpassed the $100 million mark for the first time. The College has closer ties to the Lutheran Church and has continued support of the Center for Vocational Reflection, a program that was initially created and supported through a Lilly Foundation grant. Under President Peterson the College has increased its investment in student success and satisfaction, with five-year graduation rates now over 82 percent and first-to-second year retention rates nearly 90 percent. His passion for inclusion resulted this past year in the College’s most diverse incoming class.

Peterson will retire on June 30 when he will begin to reflect on a remarkable career that included stints as a high school biology teacher, an entomology research associate at the University of Wisconsin, a staff ecologist with the National Commission on Water Quality, a vice president at the Academy of Natural Sciences, and the CEO of the Science Museum of Minnesota before coming back to Gustavus to serve as president in 2003.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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