Guide to the James E. Petersen Westminster College President's programs from other colleges' inaugurations

Table of Contents

Collection Overview

Collection Inventory+/-

Biographical Note/Historical Note

Content Description

Collection Use

Administrative Information


Collection Overview +/-

Title: James E. Petersen Westminster College President's programs from other colleges' inaugurations
Dates: 1982-1991 (inclusive)
Collection Number: ACC-047
Summary: This collection contains the records from nine college and university presidential inaugurations attended on behalf of Westminster College President James E. Petersen during his tenure as the 13th president (1982-1985), and a tenth item dating from 1991 after his term in office.
Repository: Westminster College, Giovale Library
1840 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
Phone: (801) 832-2250

Collection Inventory +/-

box 1, folder 1: Gallaudet College -- Washington, D.C. (1984 October 19)

Jerry Lee, 6th President

box 1, folder 2: Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary -- Louisville, Kentucky (1982 May 10)

John Mark Mulder, 7th President

box 1, folder 3: Methodist Theological School in Ohio -- Delaware, Ohio (1982 May 12)

Buford Allen Dickinson, 2nd President

box 1, folder 4: Pepperdine University -- Los Angeles, California (1985 October 21)

David Davenport, 6th President

box 1, folder 5: Piedmont College -- Demorest, Georgia (1982 October 28)

D. Garen Simmons, 10th President

box 1, folder 6: Princeton Theological Seminary -- Princeton, New Jersey (1984 March 28)

Thomas William Gillespie, 5th President

box 1, folder 7: Shenandoah College -- Winchester, Virginia (1983 April 9)

James Arnold Davis, 15th President

box 1, folder 8: Stillman College -- Tuscaloosa, Alabama (1982 September 13)

Cordell Wynn, 4th President

box 1, folder 9: Union College -- Barbourville, Kentucky (1983 September 13)

Jack Carter Phillips, 15th President

box 1, folder 10: Weber State University -- Ogden, Utah (1991 January 11)

Paul H. Thompson, 1st President

Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-

James E. ("Pete") Petersen, Kennecott Copper Company's industrial relations manager served the Westminster College twice, once for 8 months as Interim President in 1979 and again from 1982-1985 (as President). A businessman with no college degree, he saw the college through the brink of bankruptcy and a reorganization that put it on the road to its current success.

Peterson was born June 22, 1918 in Salt Lake City, Utah to Layfayette and Marie Swensen Petersen. During World War II Pete served in the Navy. After returning from the war, he worked at the U.S. Mine in Lark, Utah. James Peterson had a long career at Kennecott Copper (from 1948-1980) serving in several capacities, including Director of Human Resources. He was chairman for the United Way Fund Drive and the Utah Red Cross Blood Bank, and served on many boards of directors.

The Deseret News obituary reported on his connection to Westminster College thus: "In 1979, while employed at Kennecott, Pete became the interim president at Westminster College. He led the college through the most serious crisis in its history, a period of which the college was threatened with closure because of financial problems and its academic accreditation was in jeopardy. Because of his people and business skills, Pete was very successful in his effort to save the college from closing it's doors. Today, Westminster College is recognized as a cornerstone in the academic community. During his challenge, Pete received two honorary Doctorate degrees, one from the University of Utah and one from Westminster College".

James Petersen, died April 19, 1996 in Scottsdale, Arizona of emphysema, survived by his wife, Irene, 3 daughters and 3 sons. The James E. Petersen Memorial Scholarship Fund at Westminster College was established to support single mothers in completing their education.


  • James E. "Pete" Petersen obituary published in the Deseret News, April 21, 1996
  • Brackenridge, R. Douglas. Westminster College of Salt Lake City: from Presbyterian mission school to independent college. Logan, Utah : Utah State University Press, 1998.

Content Description +/-

This collection contains the records from nine college and university presidential inaugurations attended on behalf of Westminster College President James E. Petersen during his tenure as the 13th president (1982-1985), and a tenth item dating from 1991 after his term in office. The records were collected by Westminster alumni, or friends of the college, asked to represent Westminster College at the inaugurations when the president was unable to attend.

The programs of each inauguration are included in the collection. They contain information on the new president, history of the college or university, schedule of the inaugural program (including speakers and entertainment ), and often the representative of the colleges and universities in attendance. The programs come from both religiously affiliated as well as secular schools, stretching from Washington, D.C. to California.

Most of the ceremonies were held during the 1980s and demonstrate the importance of ushering in a new president to their institution. These inaugurations often included luncheons, dinners, and other inauguration activities. Attending alumni were coordinated through the Alumni Office and later had direct communication with the College president. Correspondence, both with Westminster College and the hosting institution, often showed a confirmation of the attendance of the alumni, acknowledgements on behalf of the participant and the college, and a recap of the inauguration events. Dorothy Parker Graham, who attended the Union College inauguration of Jack Carter Phillips, included her collection of photographs of the inauguration (the processional, the inauguration brunch, and the Union College campus). Other records include additional information about the hosting school, for example, Gallaudet records include the school's admissions "viewbook." While the inauguration proceedings differ in many aspects, Westminster College shares a commonality with some of the unique aspects of the inaugural proceedings. The collection provides a view into the inaugural relationships forged between Westminster College and institutions of higher learning around the country.

The 1991 inaugural records for Paul H. Thompson indicate he was the "17th leader of the institution and 1st President of Weber State University". The program lists 5 principals of Weber Stake Academy (1889-1910), 3 principals under the name Weber Normal College, 4 presidents of Weber College, 4 presidents of Weber State College, thus making Thompson the 17th "leader" and 1st president under the new 1991 name Weber State University.

Collection Use +/-

Restrictions on Access:

Open to public research.

Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Twenty-four hours advance notice is encouraged.

Restrictions on Use:

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material must be obtained from the director of the Giovale Library.

Preferred Citation:

James E. Petersen Westminster College President's programs from other colleges' inaugurations, 1982-1991, ACC-047, Giovale Library Archives, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Administrative Information +/-


Arranged alphabetically by the name of the college or university.

Processing Note:

Processed by Alana Dela Cruz in July 2004.


Petersen, James E., 1918-1996


Collection materials are in English.


0.2 linear feet

Language of the Finding Aid:


Author of the Finding Aid:

Finding aid written July 2004 by Alana Dela Cruz.

EAD Creation Date:

2012 June 6 by Sarah Shaw


Describing Archives : A Content Standard (DACS)



Related Material:

Related collections and photographs in Giovale Library Archives:

Subjects +/-

Corporate Names:

Gallaudet College--Presidents
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary--Presidents
Methodist Theological School--Presidents
Pepperdine University--Presidents
Piedmont College--Presidents
Princeton Theological Seminary--Presidents
Shenandoah College & Conservatory of Music (Winchester, Va.)--Presidents
Stillman College (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)--Presidents
Union College (Barbourville, Ky.)--Presidents
Weber State University--Presidents
Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983). President's Office--Archives
Westminster College of Salt Lake City. Office of the President--Archives

Subject Terms:

College presidents--United States--Inauguration

Form or Genre Terms:


Personal Names:

Davenport, David--Inauguration, 1985
Davis, James A. (James Arnold), 1945- --Inauguration, 1983
Dickinson, Buford Allen, 1933- --Inauguration, 1982
Gillespie, Thomas William--Inauguration, 1984
Lee, Jerry C.--Inauguration, 1984
Mulder, John M., 1946- --Inauguration, 1982
Parker, Dorothy Graham
Petersen, James E., 1918-1996--Archives
Phillips, Jack Carter--Inauguration, 1983
Simmons, D. Garen--Inauguration, 1982
Thompson, Paul H.--Inauguration, 1991
Wynn, Cordell--Inauguration, 1982

Geographical Names:

Salt Lake City (Utah)--History--Sources