Education, Local

Retiring As Georgia Tech President, Peterson Will Return To Teaching

After he retires, Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson said he’ll probably teach classes in thermodynamics, heat transfer and interfacial transport phenomena.
After he retires, Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson said he’ll probably teach classes in thermodynamics, heat transfer and interfacial transport phenomena.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press file photo

Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson announced Monday he‘ll retire this summer, after leading the university for 10 years. Peterson deliberately hasn’t identified a date when he’ll step down.

“I’ve spoken with the [University System] Chancellor [Steve Wrigley],” Peterson said. “I’ll continue in my current role until we’ve identified a new president, and then the plan is that I’ll go back to the faculty and teach and continue my research.”

It may be an unusual step for a retiring university president, but Peterson said he’s continued doing research as president. He’s also lectured in some classes, taught a Ph.D. candidate and secured some patents. He said he’ll probably teach classes in thermodynamics, heat transfer and interfacial transport phenomena.

In an interview with WABE, Peterson addressed issues of mental health on campus. The university accelerated plans to increase mental health services for students after two recent student suicides.

Before he leaves, Peterson said he’d like to see the completion of a new mental health intake center already under construction, as well as the hiring of seven new specialists.

Over the summer, an internal audit revealed four Georgia Tech officials used their positions to benefit them financially, in violation of state law. The men lost their jobs, and the university tightened its ethics regulations. In a letter to Wrigley in August, Peterson said he felt, “disappointment, anger, and embarrassment over the ethical lapses that have plagued us at Georgia Tech.” Monday, he said there’s been progress, with more to come.

“We have taken important steps to improving the ethical climate at Georgia Tech,” Peterson said. “Accountability and commitment to preserving the public trust is at an all-time high. What I am focused on during my remaining time is getting the new vice president for ethics, compliance and legal affairs hired and on-boarded and making sure the changes we have made become permanent, part of Georgia Tech’s DNA.”

The university system credits Peterson for increasing the university’s profile by boosting fundraising and expanding Georgia Tech’s presence in Tech Square. He has overseen three new online master’s programs and an initiative that provides entrance and tuition to valedictorians and salutatorians at accredited Georgia high schools.

“Being able to be president at Georgia Tech has been one of the highlights of my career,” Peterson said. “It’s got spectacular students who get better and better every year. It’s got a great faculty. The staff are terrific. The alumni are incredibly supportive, and it’s just been an honor and a privilege to be associated with Georgia Tech.”

Extended Peterson Interview