Newly established director of student transitions and pre-college programs named

Tessa M. Woodring
December 05, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Tracy Peterson has been named the director of student transitions and pre-college programs in Penn State College of Engineering’s Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion (CEOI).

Peterson will develop College of Engineering support structures for compliance with the University’s youth policies. He will establish regional and national outreach and engagement through pre-college programs, developing programs to enhance college readiness and increasing the participation and support of underrepresented, low-income and first-generation college students. Another aspect of his role will be to support the transition of engineering students from Commonwealth Campuses into University Park.

As part of the CEOI, Peterson will also help provide a support system that promotes equity and inclusion within the College of Engineering. 

“We are very excited to have Tracy join our team,” said Tonya Peeples, associate dean for equity and inclusion, director of CEOI and professor of chemical engineering. “With his experience and work ethic, I am confident he will hit the ground running in this newly created, and desperately needed, position.”

Peeples previously worked with Peterson at the University of Iowa, where the two worked together to increase the College of Engineering’s outreach and inclusion efforts. 

Peterson earned both his bachelor’s degree in sociology, focusing on criminology, and his master’s degree in social work from the University of Iowa. He is pursuing a doctorate of student affairs administration and leadership from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. 

It was during his master’s degree work that Peterson first experienced student affairs. He began working as the director of the University of Iowa’s Latino-Native American Cultural Center for his graduate assistantship. 

“During that time, I learned how important it is to have an active presence that really helps make the students feel safe,” Peterson said. “You have to develop that trust, especially with underrepresented populations.” 

Peterson said he hopes to build the same kind of strong, trusting relationships across the Penn State community, including with students, parents and his colleagues. 

After he completed his master’s degree, Peterson served as the director of the American Indian Program House at Cornell University before continuing on to Dickinson State University, where he was a student support specialist for Native American and international students. He was also the associate director for multicultural programs at the University of Minnesota before he returned to the University of Iowa to serve as the director of diversity and outreach programs. 

According to Peterson, his experiences working in collegiate centers that are similar to the CEOI have shown him how the services they offer can positively impact students. 

“The CEOI acts as a leadership mechanism in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion,” Peterson said. “The center also provides best practices that faculty and staff can learn from and collaborate with, and that is so important to a university.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 03, 2020