Harry L. Peterson

Author of:
Leading a Small College or University:
A Conversation that Never Ends


Harry L. Peterson retired as president of Western State College of Colorado in 2002. His administrative career focused on organizational change and external relations.

Earlier in his career he served as an administrator at UW–Green Bay when it opened in 1969 and became a four year university; he reported to three Chancellors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, including serving as Chief of Staff to Donna Shalala while she was Chancellor at that university. Peterson was Deputy Chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities in the mid-1990s, when that system of higher education was created, and Vice President for University Relations and Development at the University of Idaho. He also served in the administrations of two Wisconsin governors.

Peterson received a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University, a master’s degree from University of California–Berkeley, postgraduate training at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and a Ph.D. from UW–Madison in Education Policy Studies, with an emphasis on organization change. His dissertation was a study of the leadership of Robert Birnbaum at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.

Peterson now consults with college, university, and system presidents, and has conducted presidential evaluations. His clients have included the SUNY– System Administration, SUNY–Fredonia, Holyoke Community College, the University of Wisconsin System Administration, the University of Wisconsin Colleges, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Cedar Crest College. He has served on the Board of Visitors of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and is a 2004 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award from that school.

Harry’s hobbies include book-collecting and reading—especially biographies, nature studies, and American history. He is an active fly fisher, fly tier, and writer, and has published articles about conservationist Aldo Leopold and fly fishing. He and his wife Sylvia live in Middleton, Wisconsin.


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