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Walter And Dorothy Peterson Named Hubbard Award Recipients

By Kim Billings, Advancement Communications
February 3, 2010

The UNH Foundation has named the Honorable Walter and Mrs. Dorothy Peterson the 2010 recipients of the Hubbard Family Award for Service to Philanthropy. They will be recognized at a ceremony in October.

The Hubbard Award is the highest honor bestowed by the UNH Foundation, and is named for the university's greatest benefactors, Oliver, Austin, and Leslie Hubbard. It recognizes outstanding individuals whose philanthropic leadership has significantly strengthened the state of New Hampshire, its communities, and the university.

“While the Hubbard Award recognizes the Petersons specifically for their service to philanthropy, they could just as easily be honored for their essential decency,” said President Mark Huddleston. “In an age when our public discourse is often markedly ill-mannered, reflecting extreme polarization, Walter and Dorothy are beacons of civility. I’ve yet to meet anyone in New Hampshire who didn’t genuinely like the Petersons, perhaps because they exude the spirit of Will Rogers’ observation that he ‘never met a man he didn’t like.’ They are rare and wonderful human beings.”

“Both Walter and Dorothy Peterson exemplify the very reason why this award was established,” said Mark Rubinstein, interim president of the UNH Foundation. “While both have served the entire Granite State throughout decades of service, we feel particularly privileged for the relationship they have with the University of New Hampshire. They model an ethic of citizenship and service that raises our individual and collective understanding of what is possible.  The true gift of their philanthropy is the inspiration they create for each of us to look for ways to help others.

“For many of us,” Rubinstein added, “we are reminded daily in Thompson Hall when we look at the stained glass window named in Walter’s honor by his niece, Holly Peterson Breeden, UNH Class of '73.”

“The Petersons sense where their involvement and leadership are needed, where they can make significant differences, and then they respond,” said former UNH President Joan Leitzel, who also served on the UNH Foundation Board. “I was a special beneficiary of their service at UNH. As interim president the year before I arrived, Walter worked to put everything in order and to prepare the community for new leadership. He continued to advise me as I became familiar with university issues and people, and we worked together on the foundation board.  The Petersons provided leadership to the Next Horizon Campaign and helped others understand the critical importance of philanthropy to the university’s future.”

Walter Peterson, former governor of New Hampshire, served as UNH’s interim president during the mid-1990s, as well as serving as a trustee for the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) for more than a decade. He was the board of trustees’ representative to the Foundation Board of Directors and is a director emeritus of the board.  During his term as governor, from 1969 to 1973, Peterson signed legislation creating a student seat on the university's board of trustees. Little did he know that someday his own granddaughter, Anna Peterson, UNH Class of '08, would be elected by her peers to fill that post.

Walter Peterson had an interest in higher education since his days as an undergraduate athlete at Dartmouth, and his 12 years on the USNH board of trustees - not counting the four years he served as an ex-officio member while governor of the state. He is the longest serving member of the board.

Dorothy Peterson, in addition to being Walter’s stalwart partner in community service and philanthropy throughout the Granite State, is among a veritable who’s-who in the Monadnock region. She was the first female president elected to the Monadnock Community Hospital Board of Trustees in 1978. Along with her mother, she worked as a volunteer at MCH during World War II and has remained active ever since. During her tenure as board president, the hospital added an emergency wing, acquired its very first ultrasound system and opened a new birthing center.

Dorothy also was president of the Peterborough Historical Society and served on the board of directors for The Anna Philbrook Children's Foundation. She is an active participant in her church’s Serendipity Shop and other community activities. In 1997, Dorothy received, along with her husband, the Pettee Medal, the UNH Alumni Association's highest award, for their outstanding contributions to the state and UNH.

The Petersons also founded the Walter and Dorothy Peterson Library Fund which enables new UNH faculty to purchase volumes for the university's library collection.

The UNH Foundation, Inc. is an independent charitable organization dedicated to increasing private support for UNH.

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