Dr. Polly Peterson replaced President Dr. Robert Badal as the new president at the University of Jamestown. Peterson served as the executive vice president at the university during Badal’s tenure for several years.
Additionally, Peterson has had experience as an accounting instructor at UJ for seven years prior to serving various positions at the university.
“Which (being an accounting instructor) is not necessarily the path most presidents take to pursuing the presidency, so to speak,” she said.
Furthermore, Peterson said her experience is unique because of her prior involvement in accounting and finance within the university affairs. Thus she is very honored and humbled to be the first female president at UJ and is very grateful of the previous presidents at the university who have laid the foundation of a sound, encouraging and engaging academic environment of learning and opportunities for students and faculty members alike. Consequently, UJ has a great bond and is aware of the talents of men and women within the university as a whole.
Since 1992, Peterson has been involved within many co-curricular campus activities, finance and fundraising events after she obtained her undergraduate degree in accounting and business at the UJ, which was formerly known as Jamestown College. In addition to all of her experiences she has a real appreciation of how finance and fundraising are important to accomplishing various strategic plans for the university’s goals and needs.
“You can dream big,” she said. “But, if you do not have a sound financial planning nothing will be accomplished for students, faculty and the staff members alike.”
Peterson’s goals include bolstering undergraduate student enrollment, conduct more research in implementing the right programs for prospective students that really want to matriculate to the UJ, continue great rapports between students and faculty interaction, continue to bolster the performing arts departments as a whole, recruit more students within choir and theater, make observations of additional programs that are meeting the needs of the students and potential employers, and to study new ways to get students involved within on-campus academic and co-curricular activities.
Hence, Peterson is extremely committed to the UJ's mission of campus involvement for all students and for all students to be better prepared for their respected fields and the job market after obtaining their undergraduate degrees via the university. Peterson suggested that students or others who would like to pursue a path similar to hers should work hard, respect others, serve others, and most of all believe any type of mission of a student would like to accomplish.
“If you don’t believe in the mission in what you are doing, then the mission will not be accomplished,” she said. “You must believe in the mission!”
She said students must find hobbies and fields they really love and have a passion for what they really want to do in life. In other words, find something you really want to do within life so it does not becomes mundane, monotonous and feels like work, she said. Peterson said having an extremely supportive husband and children throughout her career has been a great blessing. From attending the UJ theater events to sporting events, to picking up sticks within campus after a storm and to attending the UJ’s midnight breakfast.
Peterson said Badal has been a legendary president during his tenure at UJ, perhaps the most successful. However, she did not want to take anything away from UJ’s previous presidents prior to Badal’s helm.
“I have been blessed to have been groomed by my mentor professionally and mentally by the kindest man and such a class act,” she said.
She said traveling and learning with him is simply an education you can not pay for.
“What he has has done at the University of Jamestown has been transformational from becoming the ‘University’ to adding graduate programs,” she said.
She praised Badal’s virtuous work ethic throughout his tenure while at the UJ to the utmost.
“He has lived and breathed the University of Jamestown and we owe him a debt of gratitude,” she said.
In conclusion, Peterson said she has been very fortunate to work with many great people during her transition after it was announced that she would become the new president of the university. She said she has received support from faculty members, the administration, UJ staff, students, and alumni who sent cards and letters congratulating her and expressing ample amounts of support.