President Emeritus, Western State College
Harry L. Peterson became the twelfth President of Western State College in 1996, and served as President until his retirement in 2002. Western is one of four Colorado colleges governed by the Trustees of the State Colleges in Colorado. The college’s enrollment is approximately 2,500 students from Colorado, throughout the United States and many foreign countries.
Dr. Peterson led a restructuring of the college during his tenure at Western. He reorganized the college’s administrative structure, led the development of an Academic Strategic Plan, reorganized the academic areas into seven departments, changed the academic calendar and has put significant energy into improving relations with the community, the system administration and the Board of Trustees.
Dr. Peterson, with more than 30 years of experience in higher education, came to Western from Minnesota where he had served for three years as Deputy Chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities in St. Paul. This system comprises 62 campuses, 150,000 students and 21,000 employees. The system integrated the technical college, community college and state university systems of higher education in July of 1995. Dr. Peterson was responsible for college consolidations, policy development and recommendations to the Trustees and assisting with Board relations. He served as Acting Chancellor during July and August of 1995.
He previously served as Vice President for University Relations and Development at the University of Idaho from 1990 to 1993. In that role he was responsible for the communications office, including media relations and publications, development, alumni relations and legislative relations.
From 1978 to 1990 he served in the Chancellor’s office at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. As Executive Assistant to the Chancellor he headed the transition to the administration of Donna Shalala. He was the chief of staff in the Chancellor’s office, worked on major policy matters and supervised legislative activities. He also worked closely with the University of Wisconsin Foundation in developing a major capital fund drive and represented the Chancellor’s office with the athletic department.
Since his retirement from full-time employment in 2002 Dr. Peterson serves as a consultant to college and university presidents and a presidential evaluator for the State University of New York.