Ex-IRS official to head Hood College

November 12, 1994|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Western Maryland Bureau of The Sun

FREDERICK -- Shirley D. Peterson, a former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm, was named yesterday as the seventh president of Hood College.

Mrs. Peterson, 53, will succeed President Martha E. Church, who announced earlier this year that she will step down as head of the small liberal arts college in June.

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Hood College," said Mrs. Peterson, receiving a standing ovation from about 400 faculty, students and Hood trustees who showed up at Rosenstock Hall yesterday afternoon to hear the announcement of a new president.

Mrs. Peterson, a partner in the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson, comes to the Hood post with no experience in higher education. That mattered little to Mrs. Peterson or members of Hood's board of trustees, who unanimously approved her selection.

"No, I'm not a bit nervous," Mrs. Peterson said, responding to an inquiry about whether she was concerned because of her lack of higher-education background. "Look, after being commissioner of the IRS, not too many things are going to frighten me."

Al Shockley, a trustee and chairman of the 13-member search committee, said Mrs. Peterson was selected because of her abilities to organize and manage, as well as her national and international reputation. She was IRS commissioner during the last year of the Bush administration.

"There were just many, many, many things that impressed us," Mr. Shockley said. "She has boundless energy, is a quick learner and has experience with a law firm. She has the management abilities to take Hood College into the 21st century."

A search for Dr. Church's successor began last summer. Mr. Shockley said the committee received more than 200 applications. The field of candidates was narrowed to four finalists last month.

Mrs. Peterson is only the second woman to lead the nearly all-female college, which is on the edge of Frederick's downtown historic district. The college was founded in 1893.

Mrs. Peterson said she has "big shoes" to fill in following Dr. Church, under whose 20-year tenure the college's enrollment has grown from about 500 undergraduate and graduates students to 2,019 undergraduate and graduate students.

Under Dr. Church's presidency, the college's endowment has increased from $3 million to $39 million. She also has led efforts to improve and expand college facilities.

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