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KU Alumni Association names Heath Peterson new president, CEO

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Alumni Association has named Heath Peterson, a two-time KU graduate and 12-year veteran of the association staff, as president and CEO.

The Association’s board of directors voted unanimously to elect Peterson at the recommendation of its search committee. Peterson has served as the Association’s interim president since Aug. 1.

“The search committee received applications from talented and qualified individuals from across the country,” said Al Shank, a member of the board of directors and chair of the search committee. “After an in-depth, thorough and rigorous interview process, Heath clearly stood out as the very best person for the job.”

Peterson, who since 2013 served as vice president of alumni programs, said, “I am truly honored to lead the association and represent KU’s fiercely loyal alumni and friends. We will continue to serve the diverse interests and needs of Jayhawks, advocate for the university in the Legislature, assist in student recruitment, and identify the next generation of advisers, volunteers and donors to help strengthen KU.” 

Peterson succeeds Kevin Corbett, who resigned July 31 to become executive vice president of Affiliated Builders Group (ABG), based in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Rick Putnam, national chair of the association, said, “We are extremely pleased to have Heath as president of our association. During his career, he has displayed the skill sets and work ethic to successfully lead our organization. Throughout the search process, we learned that Heath has tremendous support among our staff, our members and the university community.  We are excited and optimistic about the future.”

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little also praised the choice of Peterson.

“I am pleased that Heath has been selected as president of the Alumni Association,” she said. “Heath has a genuine passion for all areas of the university, including academic programming, student enrollment and everything in between. As a Hugoton native, Heath knows the state of Kansas as well as anyone and brings a valuable perspective to our efforts to serve Kansans. The association and the university work together in many important ways, and I know our collaboration will thrive with Heath’s leadership.”

Dale Seuferling, KU Endowment president, said, “Heath is a hard-working, dedicated professional who will do great things in leading the Alumni Association. I look forward to working with Heath to build upon our strong partnership to advance our university. This is a great day for KU.” 

Sheahon Zenger, KU athletics director, said, “The Alumni Association has been an incredible ally of Kansas Athletics during my time here, and Heath has played a big role in our partnership. He is an energetic and enthusiastic leader, and we are eager to continue our work together.”

Peterson, 34, earned his KU bachelor’s degree in education in 2004, followed by his master’s degree in education in 2009.  As a student, he worked in facilities and hospitality services for the alumni association and became director of the Adams Alumni Center, the headquarters of the alumni association. In 2005, he accepted a new position as director of Kansas chapters to develop alumni groups and relationships statewide. Under Peterson’s leadership, the association engaged hundreds of new volunteers, recruited legislative advocates to assist KU as Jayhawks for Higher Education, and established more than 200 events and diverse programs to serve alumni, highlight KU academic programs, and identify and recruit prospective students. He was promoted to assistant vice president of alumni programs in 2010 and became vice president three years later. Since then, he has helped establish 114 alumni networks and dramatically increase membership in the Presidents Club, the association’s annual donor group formed in 2006.

Peterson is married to Carrie Robertson Peterson, a 2004 KU graduate in human biology. She received a doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is a dentist in Topeka. The Petersons have three young children, a son and two daughters.

The Alumni Association, founded in 1883, is an independent nonprofit organization that strengthens the University of Kansas by informing, mobilizing and supporting association members and the KU community. The association has 42,000 members, 42 full-time staff members and an annual budget of $5.6 million. 

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