Peterson Reflects on Two Decades as SESP Dean

Peterson Reflects on Two Decades as SESP Dean

Penelope PetersonWhen School of Education and Social Policy Dean Penelope Peterson came to Northwestern in 1997, she said she knew she wanted to lead an “innovative school” that would reform the field of education, Ally Mauch wrote in The Daily Northwestern.

“We’ve succeeded in becoming even more innovative,” Peterson said. “We’re still at the leading edge in terms of trying to do some things that are nontraditional.”

Peterson will retire in August as the longest-serving dean in SESP’s history. She will be succeeded by David Figlio,  director of the Institute for Policy Research and the Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy.

Under Peterson’s direction, SESP undergraduate and graduate enrollment have gone up and SESP faculty receive nearly seven times more research funding now than 20 years ago. Additionally, the school’s endowment has increased from $900,000 in 1997 to $46 million today.

Coleen Coleman, (Communication ’88, SESP ’91) SESP’s associate dean, said Peterson’s time at the school is “a story of growth.”

“We talk about SESP as being small but mighty,” Coleman said. “We are still small, but mightier because of the time that she’s put in here helping the school grow.”

Peterson said her favorite part of being dean has been interacting with students and seeing how passionate they are.

“We are a student-centered school,” Peterson said. “We think the students are the ones that we’re here for, and we want the students to have the learning experiences that will help them achieve their goals.”

Read the full story in The Daily Northwestern.

By Ally Mauch
Last Modified: 5/23/17