After more than 16 years as president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) — the nation's oldest higher education association — Peter McPherson has announced plans to retire in September 2022.
In a statement, he called his retirement a "bittersweet moment" but said it was time for him to spend more time with his wife, four children and six grandchildren and to focus on other projects related to public higher education.
“I’ve deeply valued the opportunity to collaborate closely with the incredibly talented and dedicated APLU staff, in partnership with the leaders of APLU member institutions and the APLU Board of Directors, to equitably advance and strengthen the work of public research universities," he said.
During his tenure, McPherson grew and strengthened the association's membership, "helping cultivate a vibrant and collaborative public higher education community," states the APLU, which credited more than a dozen accomplishments to his leadership. To name just a few, the APLU credits McPherson for expanding its federal advocacy arm; more than doubling its staff to work more closely with member institutions; helping public university leaders share best practices and solutions to shared challenges; and building the APLU into a "think-and-action-tank" that drives student success, solutions-based research and community engagement.
“What has engaged and driven me here at APLU is my commitment to strengthening public higher education. I believe deeply in expanding degree completion and closing equity gaps," stated McPherson. "Our nation must continue to significantly broaden participation in science and increase the scale and impact of academic research. These are fundamental to the betterment of human health, society, and U.S. competitiveness. Public universities have a long history of solving key problems in our communities, states, country, and the world, and I know the best is yet to come."
Before leading the APLU, McPherson was president of Michigan State University from 1993 to 2004. Prior to that, he served as group executive vice president at Bank of America; deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 1987 to 1989; administrator of the United States Agency for International Development from 1981 to 1987; managing partner of the Washington office of the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease; and special assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel during the Ford administration.