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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
PETERSON, Walter. (Idaho Falls, ID, July 15, 1920--Dubuque, IA, Oct. 22, 2007). President, UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE. Peterson came from Lawrence University in Appleton,Wisconsin to become the first lay president of the University of Dubuque in 1970. In Appleton he had been a professor of history, librarian and director of continuing education. In the community, he was president of the Wisconsin-Illinois chapter of American Studies, director of the Home Mutual Insurance Company, and president of the Milwauke chapter of the United Nations Association and vice-chairman of the Milwaukee World Affairs Council. (1)

Peterson came to Dubuque at a time of increasing student activism, declining enrollments and dwindling revenues. Peterson was given credit for reversing the status of the university by his ability to persuade others to work with him. One of his ideas led to the establishment of the Dunlap Lecture Series that invited such celebrated economists as Martin Feldstein and John Kenneth Galbraith to Dubuque to give lectures. Peterson, the longest-serving president of the University of Dubuque, retired in 1990 and was succeeded by John J. AGRIA. He then served as the school's first and only chancellor from 1990 to 2000. (2)

Peterson served as chairperson from 1981 to 1983 of the Iowa College Foundation. He was president of the Iowa Association of College and University Presidents from 1974 to 1975 and the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. (3)

Locally Peterson served on FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE) board of trustees. He was a director of the Finley Foundation, and the DUBUQUE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. Peterson shared the 1990 FIRST CITIZEN AWARD from the TELEGRAPH HERALD with William G. KRUSE. In 2007 he received the "Treasures of Dubuque" honor from the DUBUQUE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY. (4)



1. "Peterson Selected New UD President," Telegraph Herald, July 9, 1970

2. "175 Years" Vol. II Telegraph Herald, p. 85

3. Obituaries. Telegraph Herald, Oct. 25, 2007