Welcome to the Peterson Center: NEBHE Renames Boston Facility for Late NH Governor

By John O. Harney

NEBHE renamed  its headquarters at 45 Temple Place in Boston, Mass., in honor of its former chair, the late New Hampshire Gov. Walter Rutherford Peterson.

A ceremony held July 23 at the NEBHE office featured remembrances by distinguished leaders of government and higher education around New England and the unveiling of a plaque honoring Peterson, who died June 1, 2011, at age 88.

Speakers included: Peterson’s son, former state Rep. Andrew R. Peterson; New Hampshire College & University Council President Thomas R. Horgan; and state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, himself a former NEBHE chair; and Orville B. “Bud” Fitch II, who read a letter on behalf of U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; as well as current NEBHE chair Marc S. Herzog of Connecticut and President Michael K. Thomas.

NEBHE is known across New England for its ability to convene and connect with the region’s most senior decision-makers in higher education, government and business. Speakers noted that the new Peterson Center will provide a friendly space for productive meetings on higher education and key issues in New England–civil and warm like its namesake.

“Sports taught him that commitment and teamwork are essential components of any enduring success,” said Andrew Peterson of his father. “As chair and long-time board member of the New England Board of Higher Education, my father believed that, from whatever state we may hail or political party we choose, as we enter a new knowledge-based economy, we are all in it together.”

“It is fitting that NEBHE’s headquarters be named after Walter Peterson. In education, business and government, he brought individuals together to address important and timely challenges, just as NEBHE seeks to do.  His leadership remains a great example to all,” added Thomas.

About Walter Peterson

Peterson was appointed to the NEBHE board in 1982 by then-N.H. Gov. Hugh Gallen, and was NEBHE chair from 1992 to 1994. He was a steady voice in advocating for NEBHE’s mission of promoting greater educational opportunities and services for the residents of New England.

The Peterson family at the dedication of the Peterson Center, 45 Temple Place, Boston. From left to right: Jennifer Holland, Kirsten Peterson, Andrew Peterson, Dorothy Peterson, Meg Peterson, Virginia Peterson, Anna Peterson, and Heather Peterson.

Peterson was elected governor in 1968 and served two terms. Before becoming governor, Peterson served four terms in the New Hampshire Legislature, one as majority leader and two as speaker. He was also president of the New Hampshire Constitutional Convention in 1974.

After serving as chief executive, Peterson was president of Franklin Pierce College (now University) for 20 years and, in retirement served as interim president of the University of New Hampshire and interim commissioner of the Community College System of New Hampshire.

He also chaired the New Hampshire Postsecondary Education Commission, the New Hampshire College & University Council, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and was a director of the New England Education Loan Marketing Corporation.

A graduate of Nashua High School and the New Hampton School, he attended William and Mary College and the University of New Hampshire before serving as a naval officer in World War II. After the war, he graduated from Dartmouth College and worked as a special education teacher.

In 1948, with his father and brother, he founded the Peterson’s Inc. Real Estate in Peterborough, N.H.

About 45 Temple Place

NEBHE purchased its headquarters at 45 Temple Place in downtown Boston in 1983. The investment in the four-story turn-of the-century building was hailed as a commitment to the city’s retail center, close to the financial and theater districts.

Despite some difficult years, the area is now abuzz with the restaurants and shops of Boston’s rejuvenated “ladder district.” Shoppers and visitors directly by NEBHE on the city’s new Silver Line. Students of urban colleges campuses newly located in the neighborhood have made an informal, vibrant quad of the nearby Boston Common.


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