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Martha Peterson

1975-1981

Excerpted from "Seven Presidents of Beloit College" by Dr. Robert Irrmann:

Trained in the traditional classical disciplines of Latin and Mathematics, Martha Peterson embarked upon a career in teaching, and then proceeded to undertake administrative opportunities: in Kansas, in Wisconsin, in New York, and ultimately in Beloit. A graduate of the University of Kansas, with her Ph.D. from the same institution, Martha Peterson turned from the classroom to the Deanship of Women at Kansas, and came to the University of Wisconsin in 1952. Successively Dean of Women, Assistant to the President, and then University Dean of Students, Dr. Peterson was called to the presidency of Barnard College in 1967. In 1975 she became the first woman to assume the presidency of Beloit College. At home in three worlds: the classroom, the realm of academic administration, and the business world, President Peterson brought her varied talents to the service of the College at a transitional point in its life. The peculiar problems of the later 1970s presented a challenge that Martha Peterson met with enthusiasm and imagination. Supported by an active and efficient Board of Trustees, the President responded to the problems of smaller college enrollments and an altered pattern of student interests, returned the College to the traditional two semester academic year, and labored energetically to refresh the College's finances in an inflationary economy. Through her abiding interests in the arts as well as in the realms of business and economics, Martha Peterson brought a renewed lustre to the extra-curricular life of the College, while undergirding the traditional pattern of liberal learning that has been the long held heritage of Beloit College.

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