Early life and education
Peterson was born in Palo Alto, California in 1952, but spent his early life in Prairie Village, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. He attended Shawnee Mission East High School, where he lettered in football, basketball, and track. He subsequently went to Kansas State, where he played American football first as a walk-on and later as a scholarship student-athlete with the Kansas State Wildcats. He started 26 games and lettered three years as a tight end/wide receiver from 1970 to 1974, catching 30 passes for 359 yards.
Peterson graduated from Kansas State with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1975 and Mathematics in 1977. Peterson stayed at Kansas State and received an M.S. in Engineering in 1980. He then went to Texas A&M University, receiving a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering in 1985.
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Peterson worked at Black & Veatch Consulting Engineers in the summer following his graduation with his first bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. After receiving his second degree (mathematics) in 1977, he worked as a math, chemistry and physics teacher at Wabaunsee County High School in Alma, Kansas, and later as a mathematics teacher at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kansas.
After receiving his M.S., Peterson was an associate professor and head of the General Engineering Technology Department at Kansas Technical Institute in Salina, Kansas, from 1979 to 1981. He was subsequently a visiting research scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, during the summers of 1981 and 1982. While at NASA, Peterson developed a (still used) technique to determine the priming capability of high-capacity heat pipes in low gravity.
In 1985, Peterson moved to the Mechanical Engineering department of Texas A&M University. Initially an assistant professor, he became an associate professor in 1988 and a full professor in 1990. Peterson held other miscellaneous positions around this time; he became the head of the Thermal and Fluid Sciences Division in 1989, was the Halliburton Professor of Engineering in 1990-1991, the Tenneco Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1991-2000, and was the head of the Mechanical Engineering department from 1993 to 1996. From August 1993 to September 1994, Peterson also worked for the National Science Foundation as the program director for their Thermal Transport and Thermal Processing Program. In 1996, Peterson was appointed Texas A&M's executive associate dean of Engineering and also served as the Associate vice chancellor for the Texas A&M University System.
From July 2000 until June 2006, Peterson was the provost at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. As provost at Rensselaer, he played a key role in the institutional transformation and the dramatic improvement in the quality, size, and diversity of the faculty – overseeing the hiring of nearly 40 percent of the faculty, increasing the total number of tenured and tenure-track faculty by 20 percent, and improving the diversity of the tenured/tenure-track faculty by more than doubling the number of under-represented minorities and increasing the number of women by 40 percent. In addition, during his tenure as provost, the quality, size, and diversity of the student body increased, with the number of full-time PhD students increasing by 25%.
He was then the chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder from July 2006 until his departure for Georgia Tech in 2009. As the University of Colorado chancellor, Peterson led the development of a new university-wide strategic plan, Flagship 2030, which defined a vision for the university for the next 20 years. In his nearly three years as chancellor, freshman applications increased by 35 percent, the number of underrepresented minorities in the freshmen class increased by 38 percent, sponsored research increased by more than 18 percent, and private philanthropy for the university increased by nearly 80 percent.
A distinguished scientist, Peterson was appointed in 2008 by President George W. Bush, and again in 2014 by President Barack Obama, to serve as a member of the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation and advises the president and Congress on national policy related to science and engineering research and education. In the spring, he was elected for a two-year term to chair the NCAA Board of Governors, the organization’s highest governing body. He also serves on the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
While President at Georgia Tech, he was accused of a lack of due process by students. This resulted in lawsuits that resulted in students who were accused of sexual misconduct being reinstated and winning settlements.
On September 23, 2017, Peterson announced a fund he created for donors to contribute money for student mental health and wellness initiatives. Peterson stated the fund was set up following discussions with student organizations and others in the wake of the fatal campus police shooting of Georgia Tech student Scout Schultz that occurred the weekend prior to the announcement.
- Peterson, G. P., An Introduction to Heat Pipes: Modeling, Testing and Applications, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, September 1994, 356 pp. ISBN 978-0-471-30512-5
- Sobhan, C. B. and Peterson, G. P., Microscale and Nanoscale Heat Transfer, CRC Press Inc., New York, NY, 2007, 410 pp. ISBN 978-0-8493-7307-7
- Peterson, G. P. and Li, C. H., Fundamentals of Thermal Transfer Phenomena in Nanoparticle Suspensions, in progress.
- "G.P. Peterson Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). University of Colorado. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 3, 2012. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- "2008 Colorado Track and Field Media Guide" (PDF). University of Colorado. 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- Brown, Zak (2006-11-02). "Modern system: That's the ticket at CU". Daily Camera. Retrieved 2009-02-09.[dead link]
- "Biographical Sketch: G. P. "Bud" Peterson" (PDF). University of Colorado Chancellor Search. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 18, 2006. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- Ensslin, John C (2006-05-12). "CU chancellor hopeful Peterson does his homework". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2009-02-09.[dead link]
- "Dr. G. P. "Bud" Peterson". coolingzone.com. 2004. Archived from the original on 2006-03-19. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- "Office of the Chancellor: Biography". University of Colorado. Archived from the original on September 22, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- "Lawmakers grill Tech leaders on student hearings, punishment". The AJC. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]]. 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
- "Georgia Tech settles two lawsuits involving sexual assaults". The AJC. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]]. 2016-07-25. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
- Stirgus, Eric. "Georgia Tech president creates fund for student mental health initiatives". ajc. Retrieved 2017-10-13.