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Monday, August 24 2020
3:30pm - 4:30pm
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Materials Science and Engineering Seminars Series: Dr. G.P. "BUD" Peterson, 11th President of Georgia Tech

Some Thoughts On Leadership

G.P. "BUD" PETERSON President Emeritus Regents Professor of Mechanical Engineering 11th President of Georgia Tech Georgia Institute of Technology


Drawing on his more than 30 year in leadership positions, Professor Peterson will share his thoughts on leadership, and in particular, contrast the differences between “Leading” and “Managing” organizations and people. He will discuss what it is that differentiates a good leader from a good manager and why the former is so much more important than the latter?


G. P. “Bud” Peterson is currently President Emeritus and Regents Professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  He served as the 11th president of Georgia Tech from April 1, 2009 through August 31, 2019. Under his leadership Georgia Tech exceeded the $1.5 billion goal for Campaign Georgia Tech by 20%, grew innovative collaborations and strategic partnerships, expanded the campus infrastructure, and increased national and global visibility. Notably, in that decade the total research awards more than doubled exceeding more than $1 Billion in new awards in 2019; undergraduate and graduate applications and enrollment increased by 24% and 159%, respectively; ethnic and gender diversity of the undergraduate student population increased from 13.5% to 17.2% and 30% to 42%, respectively; and  the six year graduation rate and first year retention reached all-time highs of 87% and 97%, respectively.

Peterson came to Georgia Tech from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he served as Chancellor. In his three years as chancellor, freshman applications increased by 35%, sponsored research increased by more than 18%, and private philanthropy for the university increased by nearly 80%.  Prior to serving as Chancellor at CU, he served as Provost for six years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, where he played a key role in the institutional transformation and the dramatic improvement in the faculty’s quality, size, and diversity.

Prior to serving as Provost at Rensselaer, he was on the faculty at Texas A&M University for 19 years, where he held a number of leadership positions, including Associate Vice Chancellor for Engineering for the Texas A&M University System, Executive Associate Dean of Engineering, and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Prior to his service at Texas A&M, he served as a visiting research scientist at NASA-Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and Associate Professor and Head of the General Engineering Technology Department at Kansas Technical Institute in Salina, Kansas. His early career included teaching mathematics, physics, and chemistry at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kansas, and Wabaunsee County High School in Alma, Kansas.

Throughout his career, Peterson has played an active role in helping to establish the national research and education agendas, serving as a member of a number of congressional task forces, research councils, and advisory boards, including the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Research Council (NRC), and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). In addition, he has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a member of the board of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities (AAU), a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education (ACE), and currently serves as a member of AIAA Board of Trustees, a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, and in his role as past Chair as a member of the NCAA Board of Governors.

A distinguished scientist, he was appointed in 2008 by President George W. Bush to the National Science Board (NSB), which oversees the NSF and advises the President and Congress on matters related to science and engineering research and education, and in 2014 he was reappointed to the board by President Barack Obama. He has served on the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), and was appointed by President Obama to the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) 2.0 Steering Committee.  In 2018 he was appointed by Vice President Mike Pence to the National Space Council – User Advisor Group.

Peterson's research interests have focused on the fundamental aspects of phase-change heat transfer, including the heat transfer in reduced-gravity environments, boiling from enhanced surfaces, and some of the earliest work in the area of flow and phase-change heat transfer in microchannels. He is a fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, receiving the AIAA Distinguished Service Award in 2011. Peterson is the author or co-author of 17 books or book chapters, 250 refereed journal articles, and 146 conference publications. He has 16 patents, with four others pending.

Peterson earned a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, a second bachelor's degree in Mathematics, and a master's degree in Engineering, all from Kansas State University. He earned a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University. He and his wife, Val, have four adult children, two of whom are Georgia Tech alumni.

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