Physician, teacher, and higher education administrator Chase N. Peterson was the 11th president of the University of Utah. Peterson came to the position after serving as U of U vice president of health sciences for five years. Prior to that, he spent 11 years at Harvard University in top administrative posts.
Peterson oversaw significant growth at the U, with enrollment rising from about 14,000 students to 25,000 during his presidency. New buildings, including the Alice Sheets Marriott Center for Dance and the Student Services Building, were constructed. A firm believer in community service, Peterson proposed the idea for what became the U’s Bennion Center for Community Engagement. His negotiation skills brought major support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which, in collaboration with the Eccles family, established the Eccles Institute of Human Genetics at the U. He also spearheaded a record-breaking fundraising campaign that brought in $210 million.
Peterson grew up in Logan, Utah, where his father, E. G. Peterson, served as Utah State University president. Peterson received his bachelor’s degree in American government and pre-medical studies from Harvard. He earned his MD from Harvard Medical School and completed his internship and residency at Yale. He was chief of medical education at LDS Hospital and taught at the U School of Medicine before becoming Harvard dean of admissions. As U vice president for health sciences, Peterson helped cultivate the university’s medical and research programs, with an emphasis on genetics research. He also served as U spokesperson for the world’s first artificial heart transplant.
After stepping down as president, Peterson continued to teach and practice medicine at the U and volunteered at Salt Lake City’s 4th Street Clinic, which serves people experiencing homelessness. Peterson died in 2014. The Chase N. Peterson Heritage Center, the hub of the U’s residence halls, is named in his honor.