Walter R. and Dorothy Peterson Establish Scholarship at Plymouth State University to Support Aspiring Writers

February 16th, 2010 by Adam

Former New Hampshire Governor Walter Peterson and his wife, Dorothy, have established a $25,000 endowed scholarship at Plymouth State University that will provide assistance to students of writing while promoting excellence in the teaching and practice of writing. The gift reflects not only the Peterson family’s belief in the transformative power of higher education, but also their commitment to keeping such education accessible and affordable for all. In making this gift to Plymouth State University, the Petersons affirm the value of critical writing in the education of all students, as well as their support for Plymouth State’s mission as a regional comprehensive university.

“We believe that helping young people reach their potential, especially with the written and spoken word, enriches all of us,” said Walter and Dorothy Peterson. “We are pleased to do our modest part to help worthy students of Plymouth State University.”

The Peterson Scholarship recognizes particularly the work and career of the Petersons’ daughter Meg Petersen, a professor of English at Plymouth State University and founder of the Plymouth Writing Project. Established in 2002, the Plymouth Writing Project promotes access to high quality educational experiences as a basic right of all learners and thus a cornerstone of equity. The Plymouth Writing Project is the New Hampshire chapter of the National Writing Project and shares the values of that organization—equity, diversity, and excellence—while seeking to ensure exemplary instruction of writing in every classroom across the state. Through an annual conference, a series of summer institutes focusing on technology and multimedia, and outreach activities including the National Day of Writing celebration, the extensive network of teacher leaders that comprises the Plymouth Writing Project is dedicated, quite simply, to helping New Hampshire students become better learners and writers.

As a Fulbright Scholar in the Dominican Republic, Dr. Petersen has recently expanded the scope of the Plymouth Writing Project to encompass an international focus, another strategic priority of Plymouth State. In forging strong connections between the Plymouth Writing Project and teachers in the Dominican Republic, her goal is to create intercultural exchange programs between the two countries, extending the mission of providing excellent writing instruction to students across national boundaries.

At Plymouth State, the Peterson Scholarship embodies the essence of Dr. Petersen’s work at home and abroad. The primary criterion for the Peterson Scholarship is the recipient must be seeking a bachelor’s degree in English education or a writing-related discipline and demonstrate financial need. Preference will be given to those majoring in English education and / or pursuing a career in the teaching of writing, and recipients will be referred to as “Petersen Scholars.”

The Peterson family has a long, rich history of service to New Hampshire. Walter Peterson, a graduate of Dartmouth College, served as Governor of New Hampshire from 1969-73 and president of Franklin Pierce University for 20 years. He is a former member of the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees. He also is a partner in The Peterson, Inc., a family real estate firm in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Dorothy Peterson has been a leader through a variety of volunteer and public service roles. She was president of the Peterborough Historical Society and served on the board of directors for The Anna Philbrook Children’s Foundation. In 1997, Dorothy received, along with her husband, the Pettee Medal, the University of New Hampshire Alumni Association’s highest award, for their outstanding contributions to the state and UNH. Dorothy and her husband also founded the Walter and Dorothy Peterson Library Fund at UNH which enables new faculty to purchase volumes for the university’s library collection.

“The Petersons’ gift is far-reaching in its generosity and intent,” said Sylvia Bryant, executive director of advancement at PSU, “with the potential to benefit generations of PSU students for years to come, especially those students who love to write. We are grateful for their generous investment in the future of the University and our students, one that will provide aspiring students of writing excellence the tools they need to succeed not just at Plymouth State but throughout their careers, as well.”

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or

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