M. Peter McPherson

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M. Peter McPherson
M Peter McPherson at lectern in 1981.jpg
19th President of Michigan State University
In office
Preceded by Gordon Guyer
Succeeded by Lou Anna Simon
8th Administrator of AID
In office
Preceded by Douglas J. Bennet
Succeeded by Ronald Roskens
Personal details
Born (1940-10-27) October 27, 1940 (age 76)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Alma mater Michigan State University
Western Michigan University
American University Law School

Melville Peter McPherson[1] (born October 27, 1940) was a special assistant to President Gerald Ford, administrator of USAID under President Ronald Reagan, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Department, president of Michigan State University from 1993 to 2004, and Chairman of Dow Jones. He currently serves as president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Early life, education, and personal life[edit]

McPherson was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[2] McPherson received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1963.[3] While a student, he was a member of the prominent conservative Young Americans for Freedom student organization.[citation needed] Returning from the Peace Corps, McPherson earned a master's in business administration from Western Michigan University in 1967 and a law degree from American University in Washington in 1969.[3] McPherson and his wife, Joanne, have four children and six grandchildren.

Peace Corps service[edit]

His public service career began as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru, where during 1965 and 1966 he spent 18 months in a Peruvian slum running a food distribution program and setting up credit unions.[4] He called the experience a defining moment and said his experience in the Peace Corps helped him learn how to adapt.[4] "When I was a Peace Corps volunteer, it was just a different culture," McPherson said.[4] "I found I couldn't be a gringo and be effective. It's just a matter of asking people what they want to get done, finding out what the formal and informal rules are and figuring out ways to do things differently, while doing practical work in that environment. But that process was a challenge."[4]

Service in Ford and Reagan Administrations[edit]

After law school, he worked for the Internal Revenue Service, where his specialty was international taxation. He joined the administration of fellow Michigander Gerald Ford in 1975 as special assistant to the President. Dick Cheney was White House Chief of Staff.

After his government service in the Ford administration, he worked in private law practice as managing partner of the Washington office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, an Ohio law firm.[5]

In November, 1980 he was named general counsel to the Reagan-Bush transition.

McPherson held several high-level positions in President Ronald Reagan's administration including administrator of USAID from 1981 to 1987 where he led the U.S. response to the famine in Africa.[citation needed] "At AID, you learn the process of deciding as a group large issues," McPherson said[4]

McPherson's interest in world humanitarian and agricultural issues has made a difference for millions of people. While administrator of USAID he was also chair of the board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.[6]

McPherson served as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department from 1987 to 1989.

After his service in the Reagan administration, McPherson worked for Bank of America from 1989 to 1993 managing $600 million as the bank's executive vice president.

President of Michigan State University[edit]

In 1993 he was selected to become President of Michigan State University from 171 publicly identified candidates.

During his tenure as President of MSU, the school's international undergraduate study program became the nation's largest. McPherson also gets credit as the only president of a major university to keep tuition at the rate of inflation and for spearheading a $1 billion capital fund-raising campaign and for bringing a private law school to the 45,000-student campus. McPherson retired from MSU in 2004. [1]

McPherson took a leave of absence as President of MSU in 2003 to serve as the Director of Economic Policy for the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq, where he helped establish a central bank and develop a new currency. [2] In August, 2004, McPherson, who spent four months in Iraq, was among five recipients presented with the Distinguished Service Award by U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow for his service in Iraq. [3]

Chairman of Dow Jones[edit]

In February 2007 Dow Jones & Co. named McPherson chairman of the company during its annual shareholding meeting on April 18. McPherson replaced Peter Kann who earlier had announced his retirement. McPherson had served as an independent director of Dow Jones since 1998. [4]

As Chairman of Dow Jones & Co., McPherson was deeply involved in the negotiations with Rupert Murdoch over Murdoch's plan to purchase the Wall Street Journal. [5]

The Financial Times reported on December 13, 2007 that McPherson led the final annual meeting of Dow Jones where stockholders voted to approve the $5 billion sale of the 125-year-old company including the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. "I know I speak for so many today when I say that this has been a difficult—and for many—a sad set of discussions," said McPherson, offering "great expectations and hopes" for the future.[7]

Other activities[edit]

Aside from his duties as Chairman of Dow Jones, McPherson is a Founding Co-Chair and serves as a Director of the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa. [6] McPherson is a member of Washington D.C. based think tank the Inter-American Dialogue.[8] He also serves as the president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). [7]

President of APLU[edit]

As President of the APLU, McPherson has been a prime mover behind “College Portrait," a template for information that public, four-year institutions will provide online in an easily comparable way.[9] College Portrait has three parts: student and family information, student experiences and perceptions, and student learning outcomes.[9] "If we can’t figure out how to measure ourselves, someone else will figure out how to measure us," McPherson said.[9] “It’s inevitable."[9] McPherson says that universities need to focus on the big picture and support the new system or the federal government will come in and define how assessment will take place.[9] "If we wait for the perfect test, we’d be waiting 10 years from now," says McPherson.[9] “You need to take a step like this to force the pace," McPherson added.[9]

BIFAD Chair[edit]

McPherson was appointed by the white house in 2002 as the new chairman to the Board for International Food and Agricultural development (BIFAD).[10] BIFAD advises USAID on the topics of food and agricultural safety in the developing world. He was succeeded in 2007 by Robert Easter.[11]


External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Gordon Guyer
President of Michigan State University
Succeeded by
Lou Anna Simon