President Peterson Receives Polar Star

Posted on April 29th, 2010 by

Dr. James L Peterson '64 with Swedish Embassy's Karin Olofsdotter. She presented him with the Royal Order of the Polar Star at Gustavus on April 29.

Dr. James L. Peterson ’64, who served as the 15th president of Gustavus Adolphus College from 2003 to 2008, was awarded the Royal Order of the Polar Star at a special, private luncheon Thursday, April 29 on campus.

The honor was bestowed by the Swedish crown in appreciation and recognition of Dr. Peterson’s service to Gustavus and his continued work to foster relationships with individuals and organizations to strengthen ties with Sweden. Gustavus was founded in 1862 by Swedish Lutheran immigrants.

During his five years at the helm of Gustavus, President Peterson made contributions that will endure far into the future. Echoing his own Swedish Lutheran heritage, he promoted and strengthened ties with both traditions. He drew College constituencies together in fruitful collaboration toward a common mission, working to develop a strategic planning framework to effectively serve the College.

The second of three sons of an Augustana Lutheran pastor, Dr. Peterson followed his parents and his older brother, Paul ’62, to Gustavus. After graduating, he married Susan Pepin, whom he met at Gustavus, and put his degree to work teaching science, English, remedial reading, and Latin in Peoria, Ill., before moving back to Minnesota.

In 1968, he left the classroom to pursue graduate study in entomology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, earning his Ph.D. in 1972. Post-doctoral study at the University of Wisconsin–Madison led to environmental policy work with the National Commission on Water Quality in Washington, D.C., and research administration with the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. In 1984, he was named president of the Science Museum of Minnesota, where, during a 19-year tenure, he grew the budget and the staff and steered a new $100 million, 325,000-square-foot facility through the Minnesota Legislature.

The Order of the Polar Star is intended as a reward for Swedish and foreign “civic merits, for devotion to duty, for science, literary, learned and useful works, and for new and beneficial institutions.” The Order of the Polar Star has been presented to foreign nationals, including other Gustavus leaders.

Dr. James L. Peterson receiving the Royal Order of the Polar Star. (Photo by Stacia Vogel)


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


Comments are closed.