A veteran community college administrator with roots in Carbon and San Juan counties will lead College of Eastern Utah once it merges with Utah State University on July 1.
USU President Stan Albrecht tapped Joe Peterson, Salt Lake Community College vice president for instruction, to be chancellor of the 72-year-old school with campuses in Price and Blanding.
Peterson began his career in 1982 as a USU English instructor, then joined the Dixie State College faculty before serving as dean of Arts, Letters and Science and later vice president of student services at the St. George school.
"Dr. Peterson is a native of the area with proven leadership skills at higher education institutions around the state," Albrecht said in a statement. "He recognizes the distinctive strengths of both our institutions, and he has spent his professional life focusing on the needs of students. He will make an exceptional leader as we move to fulfill our land-grant mission to provide high-quality education throughout the state."
Peterson grew up in Price, the son of a then-CEU faculty member, historian Charles Peterson, now on emeritus status from USU. He holds degrees in English from Brigham Young University and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada.
Peterson's appointment marks a critical milestone in CEU's transition from a stand-alone community college to a somewhat autonomous affiliate in USU's network of regional campuses. On Saturday, Gov. Gary Herbert will do a ceremonial signing of the legislation authorizing the merger, before delivering the last commencement address for CEU as an independent institution.
"This will have a transformative impact on the region and will really provide a combination that meets the community's needs," Peterson said in a prepared statement. "People on campus show tremendous dedication to education of their students, and people off campus made clear that these campuses are vital to the health of the community. I am really pleased about how strongly the communities value what is going on there and how positive they are about the next phase."
Peterson will succeed the interim president, Mike King, who occupies a similar provost-like position at CEU as the one Peterson is vacating at SLCC.
As chancellor of the school that will be known as Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah, Peterson will report to Albrecht, while the USU board of trustees will be expanded to include representatives from Price and Blanding.