By Tim Vitale, Utah State Today
Utah State University-Eastern Chancellor Joe Peterson announced that he will retire as of June 30.
Peterson has served eight years after he was named Eastern’s first chancellor on July 1, 2010, following the merger of Utah State University and the College of Eastern Utah.
USU President Noelle Cockett praised Peterson for his role in expanding educational opportunities for students at Eastern and Blanding, and for his leadership role during the USU-College of Eastern Utah transition.
“Dr. Peterson worked tirelessly to lead that transition and help us navigate the many complexities of the merger,” Cockett said. “Joe has strong ties to the community, and his love for the campus and the Eastern family have always been clear. He has been a powerful voice for a strong university presence in Price and Blanding.”
Cockett named senior administrator Gary Straquadine as interim chancellor. Straquadine currently is vice chancellor for academic advancement at USU Eastern, and he is a vice provost at USU.
Cockett also announced that she plans a series of stakeholder meetings in which she hopes to receive feedback from constituents about the future needs and directions of the Eastern campuses. Stakeholder meetings will be held with community members, faculty, staff and students both in Price and Blanding
Peterson extended his personal thanks to fellow administrators, faculty, staff, students, donors, community members and all the many people with whom he has been honored to work.
“I have cherished my associations with colleagues and friends within the University and within the communities of Southeast Utah,” he said. “Serving as Chancellor has been the highlight of my career.”
“I am thankful for my time at Eastern and fully understand that none of our achievements would have been possible without the truly remarkable group of people with whom I have been privileged to work and serve,” he added.
During Peterson’s tenure at USU Eastern, the Price and Blanding campuses experienced significant improvements in facilities and academic programs. In Price, Peterson oversaw the development and construction of a large classroom building and the remodeling of the Geary Event Center. Peterson also contributed significantly to the expansion of student housing on the Blanding Campus.
Under Petersons leadership, academic programs have also flourished with significant increases in numbers of degree-completers in four-year and masters programs as well as in high-demand technical degrees.
Straquadine will begin his interim role June 30, and he knows the campuses well. He has been responsible for program design and development for USU in southeast Utah. He also assisted Chancellor Peterson with advancing the academic programs at Eastern with added responsibilities for economic and community development.
Prior to being named vice chancellor at USU Eastern, Straquadine served many leadership roles at Utah State. He is a former department chair of Agricultural Systems Technology and past associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. As a former dean for the Tooele Regional Campus, Straquadine is well acquainted with the place-bound teaching and learning in Utah. He also served three years as a department chair at The Ohio State University before returning to USU at the Eastern campus.
“Dr. Straquadine’s experience and expertise will allow for continued innovation in the delivery of the highest quality academic programs for southeast Utah,” said President Cockett.