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May 12, 2014

Peters receives Hovde Outstanding Faculty Fellow award

Jerry Peters, professor of youth development and agricultural education, has been named the 2013-14 Frederick L. Hovde Outstanding Faculty Fellow. Peters is the senior faculty fellow for Meredith Hall and the 30th winner of the annual award.

Peters joined the University Residences' Faculty Fellow Program in 2003 after serving as a department head and interim dean, looking for a new way to engage with students. Peters and his wife, Sue, a retired media specialist from Klondike Middle School, saw their own children live in Purdue residence halls and have committed to helping other students have the same positive experiences.

"Jerry and his wife have been a dynamic duo within the hall, from serving root beer floats to new residents during BGR move-in to preparing a midnight pancake dinner for residents during finals week," says Meredith resident assistant Caitlyn Lowry, whose floor was paired with Peters this year.

Peters enjoys helping with Boiler Gold Rush and letting students and their parents know right away that there's more to Purdue professors than giving lectures and grading papers.

"We give out information to parents and they say, 'You're a faculty member, and you're here on a Saturday or a Sunday? And you're welcoming my child?'" Peters says.

The Peters also attended weekly floor dinners, invited residents to their home and attended every match of the "NE2 Boxfans" intramural team – the floor's inner tube water polo squad. Peters recruited residents to come to games and even filmed the team's matches on his iPad. The Boxfans were the only team with game film to study for intramural water polo.

On a more academic level, Peters offered to read student résumés for a career fair and set up a dinner for about 40 Meredith residents with participants in the Afghan Junior Faculty Development Program. The program brings faculty members from universities in Afghanistan to Purdue for eight weeks to introduce them to academic culture in the United States. They sit in on classes and work with the Center for Career Opportunities.

"This was a fantastic cultural experience for them as well as our students. The Afghans had a chance to ask them all kinds of questions, and likewise," Peters says. "It gave them a whole different perspective of things to think about."

The students enjoyed meeting people from across the globe with such a different upbringing and shared pursuit of higher education.

"Jerry is a vessel of information on such a large variety of topics, which makes him such a valuable faculty fellow because he is so eager and willing to share this information," Lowry says. "He wants to empower my residents to learn as much as possible throughout their time here at Purdue."

For Peters, the award is as much a validation of the intentions of the faculty fellow program as it is an individual honor.

"It's unexpected recognition. As a fac fellow you do what is expected, doing your job to the best of your ability. It's always nice to be recognized for the effort you put in," Peters says. "The award is a way the University has of giving back to show appreciation, while being a faculty fellow is our way of giving back to the University."

Writer: Matt Watson, 765-494-3572, watso101@purdue.edu