M. Peter McPherson

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

M. Peter McPherson
M Peter McPherson at lectern in 1981.jpg
19th President of Michigan State University
In office
October 1, 1993 – December 31, 2004
Preceded byGordon Guyer
Succeeded byLou Anna Simon
3rd United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
In office
October 15, 1987 – January 20, 1989
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byRichard G. Darman
Succeeded byJohn E. Robson
8th Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development
In office
Preceded byDouglas J. Bennet
Succeeded byRonald Roskens
Personal details
Born (1940-10-27) October 27, 1940 (age 80)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Alma materMichigan State University
Western Michigan University
American University Law School

Early life, education, and personal lifeEdit

McPherson was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[2] McPherson received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1963.[3] 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 serviceEdit

His public service career began as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru, where during 1964 and 1965 he spent 18 months in Lima 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 AdministrationsEdit

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 and Deputy Director, Presidential Personnel Office. Dick Cheney was White House Chief of Staff.

After his government service in the Ford administration, he joined a 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. He was White House Counsel for the early weeks of the Reagan presidency.

He served as administrator of USAID from 1981 to 1987 where he led the U.S. response to the Great Famine in Africa in 1984-85. During that famine, the U.S. delivered 2 million tons of food to Africa in a 12 month period. With UNICEF, he and USAID led the worldwide effort to deal with diarrhea and dehydration, then the biggest killer of children in the developing world. This involved massive increase in the use of Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) and saved millions of lives: "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.

McPherson served as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department from 1987 to 1989. At Treasury, he was one of the three U.S. negotiators in the final weeks for the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement in 1988.

After his service in the Reagan administration, McPherson was a Group Executive Vice President for worked for Bank of America. His responsibilities included renegotiating the bank's $8 billion trouble debt with developing countries, managing the bank’s operations in Latin America and Canada, and managing the bank’s global private banking. Also at the bank, he was a member of the U.S. banking industry committee that advised the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in the restructuring of its financial structure. He chaired the U.S. banking industry committee that advised the U.S. government on the negotiations of NAFTA, the trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

President of Michigan State UniversityEdit

In 1993 he was selected to become President of Michigan State University from 171 publicly identified candidates, effective October 1.[6][7]

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 through a Tuition Guarantee plan.[8] He led a $1 billion capital fund-raising campaign and brought a private law school to the 45,000-student campus. He developed the idea and was a leader of the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor that provided grants for research and commercialization of intellectual property. McPherson retired from MSU at the end of 2004[9] Unbeknownst to senior university officials, some of the crimes committed by MSU faculty member Larry Nassar as part of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal occurred during the later years of McPherson's tenure.

While at Michigan State, he chaired the Blue Ribbon Committee to review the Lansing School System, chaired the State of Michigan Committee to Review Charter Schools and chair the Blue Ribbon Mid-Michigan Committee to review children;’s issues from birth to age five.

McPherson took a five month 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 reopened the countries banks, helped establish a central bank and helped put in place develop a new currency.[10][11] In August, 2004, McPherson was among five recipients presented with the Distinguished Service Award by U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow for his service in Iraq.[12]

Chairman of Dow JonesEdit

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.[13] [14]

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.[15]

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.[16]

President of APLUEdit

McPherson has been president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the nation’s oldest higher education association, since 2006. During his tenure, McPherson has expanded the association's federal advocacy and worked on efforts aimed at boosting degree completion, enhancing transparency and accountability, strengthening university’s research enterprise, and expanding community and economic engagement.

McPherson spearheaded the creation of APLU’s Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success initiative, which launched in November 2018.[17] [18] The effort is convening 130 change-ready institutions within 16 “transformation clusters” – reaching 3 million undergraduate students, including 1 million Pell Grant recipients. The effort is aiming to increase college access, eliminate the achievement gap, and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025. It represents the largest-ever such collaborative work. APLU is broadly sharing lessons from the collaboration to help spur student-centered transformation across the sector.

McPherson has also championed a range of transparency and accountability efforts. In 2007, he led APLU’s role in co-founding the Voluntary System of Accountability – which was designed to enable institutions to demonstrate their voluntary commitment to publishing access, cost, and student outcomes measures for the benefit of the public, prospective students, and lawmakers. The VSA has since evolved into a data analytics tool for universities to improve their strategic planning and decision making. Building on those efforts, APLU co-founded the Student Achievement Measure (SAM) in 2014 to provide a more complete understanding of student success at universities. SAM was created to address flawed federal education data that only counts first-time, full-time students who receive federal financial aid.[19]

Another focus of McPherson’s leadership has been the expansion of community and economic engagement efforts. In 2013, APLU launched the Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Designation and Awards program to recognize universities that are leaders in spurring and promoting regional economic development. Participating institutions complete a rigorous self-study process and earn the IEP designation if enough benchmarks are met. More than 60 universities have received the designation.[20]

His leadership of APLU has also included a permanent partnership with the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) in an effort to incubate and promulgate the reforms necessary to help public urban research universities best serve their rapidly changing student populations. USU works with these institutions to pilot, refine, and share the most effective practices to accelerate innovation across higher education. Its work is centered on recruiting, admitting, retaining, and graduating high‐need, traditionally at‐risk students while reducing costs, reexamining campus business models, and fostering mutually beneficial campus‐community engagements.

Other activitiesEdit

McPherson continues his strong commitment to agriculture and health in the developing world. He was a Founding Co-Chair of the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa.[21] He served as the founding chair of the HarvestPlus Project Advisory Board (PAC) for 15 years, and was the Chair of the board of IFDC for 10 years.

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation.[22] He was a member of the International Board of Advisors of Komatsu Company, a Japanese equipment manufacturer. He served on the board of Conservation International. McPherson is also a member of Washington D.C. based think tank the Inter-American Dialogue.[23] He also serves as the president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).[24]

BIFAD ChairEdit

McPherson was appointed in 2002 by President George W. Bush as the chairman to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD).[25] BIFAD advises USAID on the topics of food and agricultural safety in the developing world. He was succeeded in 2007 by Robert Easter.[26]


McPherson has been awarded:

U.S. Presidential Certificate of Outstanding Achievement for “continued demonstrated vision, initiative and leadership in efforts to achieve a world without hunger.”

Secretary of State Distinguished Leadership Award

Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton Award

Honorary Doctorates from several universities

UNICEF award for Outstanding Contributions to Child Survival

Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award

National Public Service Award from the American Society for Public Administration[27]

Banker of the Year Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade


  1. ^ Khiss, Peter. "Man in the news; U.S. aid director in Lebanon". New York Times. Retrieved 29 October 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ New York Times. "Man in the News: US AID Director in Lebanon" by Peter Khiss. June 20, 1982.
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2007-09-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e "The State News". 6 December 2005. Archived from the original on 6 December 2005. Retrieved 29 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Detroit News. "MSU chief takes job in Iraq" by Charlie Cain, Margarita Bauzá, and Lisa Zagaroli. April 18, 2003. The original story is a dead link. An archival copy is available here.
  6. ^ "1963 graduate 'has always loved the school'". Detroit Free Press. August 18, 1993. Retrieved January 28, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "M. Peter McPherson (b. 1940)". Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections. Retrieved January 28, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/1999/msu-establishes-tuition-rates-extends-tuition-guarantee-to-freshmen/
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2018-09-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "The State News". 9 February 2005. Archived from the original on 9 February 2005. Retrieved 29 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ http://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/messages/2629/2013206.html
  12. ^ "Michigan State University Newsroom - U.S. Treasury honors McPherson with Distinguished Service Award". 12 January 2007. Archived from the original on 12 January 2007. Retrieved 29 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-08-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Prime Newswire. "Dow Jones to Name M. Peter McPherson Chairman of the Board and Announces John Brock and Paul Sagan Will Be Nominated to the Board of Directors" February 21, 2007. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Cohen, Sarah Ellison and Laurie P. "Dow Jones Chairman Emerges As Key Player in Bid". Wsj.com. Retrieved 29 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 29 May 2018. Cite uses generic title (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ http://www.aplu.org/news-and-media/News/public-research-universities-unveil-unprecedented-national-effort-to-increase-college-access-equity--postsecondary-attainment
  18. ^ https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/11/12/aplu-enlists-130-universities-collaboration-completion-and-equity-gaps
  19. ^ https://www.studentachievementmeasure.org/
  20. ^ http://www.aplu.org/projects-and-initiatives/economic-development-and-community-engagement/innovation-and-economic-prosperity-universities-designation-and-awards-program/
  21. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  22. ^ https://geraldrfordfoundation.org/officers-and-trustees/
  23. ^ "Inter-American Dialogue | Peter McPherson". Thedialogue.org. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ "Minutes of 146th BIFAD Meeting" (PDF). Usaid.gov. Retrieved 29 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. ^ "Biography - University of Illinois System". Uillinois.edu. Retrieved 29 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  27. ^ https://www.aspanet.org/ASPA/Make-Connections/Awards/National-Public-Service-Award.aspx

External linksEdit

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