Penelope L. Peterson, dean of the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) and the

Penelope Peterson

Eleanor R. Baldwin Professor of Education at Northwestern University, will retire from the dean’s position Aug. 31, 2017, Provost Daniel Linzer announced. Peterson has been dean of SESP since 1997 and is currently Northwestern’s longest-serving dean as well as the longest-serving dean in the history of the School of Education and Social Policy.


“During her distinguished tenure, Penelope has provided exceptional leadership for the school,” Linzer said. “I look forward to having several opportunities over the next year to recognize Penelope’s significant contributions to both SESP and Northwestern University.”


Peterson has led the hiring of an outstanding group of faculty. SESP faculty members have gone from bringing in a total of approximately $400,000 of external research funding per faculty member to more than $760,000 of external research funding per faculty member. SESP’s tenure-line faculty of 35 now incudes seven members of the National Academy of Education, one in the National Academy of Sciences and three in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition, SESP has ranked consistently among the top 10 education schools nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

“Penelope Peterson has been a key member of the Northwestern community,” President Morton Schapiro said. “Her dedication, innovative approach and tremendous leadership have benefited the University immensely, and we deeply appreciate her significant contributions to the University’s academic success.”

As dean, Peterson also has created and sustained a number of innovative and impactful initiatives, including Northwestern Academy, a multi-year college preparation and enrichment program for diverse, academically motivated students in Chicago Public Schools. The academy is a four-year program designed to prepare Chicago high school students for highly selective colleges and universities through supplemental educational opportunities and support services and is a key element of Northwestern’s Good Neighbor, Great University initiative.


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