Georgia Tech president, G.P. “Bud” Peterson set a campuswide effort one day this month called “Open Door Day,” encouraging faculty and staff to be available to talk with students who are feeling the pressures of finals or other personal challenges. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Tech president to retire

Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson is retiring this summer, ending a 10-year term as leader of one of the nation’s top research institutions, he announced Monday.

Peterson has presided over a major increase in enrollment as Georgia Tech has expanded its online offerings in recent years, but state officials rebuked him last year for “lax management” and ethics abuses by several former top administrators. He’s also been criticized for how Georgia Tech has handled student mental health issues.

“The opportunity to serve as president of Georgia Tech the past 10 years has been one of the highlights of my career,” Peterson said in a statement. “Georgia Tech is a great institution and great institutions are built on great people, great faculty, great staff and great students. Since our very first visit to Georgia Tech in the fall of 2008, Val and I have continued to be impressed with the quality of the people of Georgia Tech and the dedication and commitment to making Georgia Tech the nationally recognized institution that it is today.”

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A mechanical engineer with degrees from Kansas State and Texas A&M universities, Peterson was chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder when he was hired to lead Georgia Tech in 2009. With Peterson marking 10 years at Georgia Tech in April, he will meet the age and tenure requirements to receive full retirement benefits. His current annual compensation, $1,135,710, is the highest of any public college president in the state.

Peterson fired several top officials, accepted the resignation of others and reorganized his leadership team in recent months after state and internal audit reports found several problems such as an administrator who was paid to serve on the board of a German-based company receiving compensation for services at Georgia Tech. Peterson has said he was unaware of the relationship. He’s repeatedly said he’s been “disappointed” and “embarrassed” by the revelations.

Georgia Tech’s enrollment increased by 11 percent this fall, to more than 32,700 students, the largest increase in the University System of Georgia. It’s consistently ranked by prominent organizations as one of the nation’s top colleges and universities.

Peterson’s impending departure is one of several major leadership changes at the Midtown Atlanta school. Head football coach Paul Johnson retired at the end of the season.

The University System of Georgia will conduct a national search for Peterson’s replacement. Three other system presidents, at Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia Southern and Savannah State universities, have left or announced plans to leave this school year.    

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