Chemistry professor Peterson is named FMU’s Distinguished Professor for the 2021-22 year
Dr. LeRoy “Pete” Peterson Jr., professor of chemistry, was named FMU’s J. Lorin Mason Distinguished Professor for the 2021-22 academic year at a special awards ceremony.
The annual award, named in honor of a former chairman of the FMU Board of Trustees, is the highest honor bestowed upon an FMU faculty member. The distinction also means that Peterson will be FMU’s nominee for the South Carolina Governor’s Professor of the Year Award competition.
The award brings part of Peterson’s personal journey full circle.
He grew up in the Mars Bluff community near where Francis Marion University now stands, where he earned his undergraduate degree, and where he has taught for 33 years.
During brief remarks made before a crowd of university faculty and staff gathered at the FMU Performing Arts Center, Peterson paid homage to his family and attributed his success to their support.
“Even though they didn’t have the opportunity to further their career the way I have done, they planted that seed in me that undergirded my thirst for knowledge,” Peterson said. “Most of them aren’t with us now, but I think about what they did for me almost every night.”
The Mason Distinguished Professor award is based upon a faculty member’s ongoing contributions to teaching, professional service and scholarly activities.
Peterson is the 47th recipient of the Mason award. In 1984, Peterson earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Mathematics from then Francis Marion College. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Physical-Inorganic Chemistry in 1990 from the University of South Carolina.
Fred Carter, FMU’s president, praised Peterson for his contribution to the university.
“Pete is a scholar in every sense of the word; he’s an engaging teacher and a brilliant researcher. Just as important, he is a fine gentleman who has been an essential part of the university community for decades,” Carter said. “His story exemplifies Francis Marion University’s core mission of furthering the lives of our graduates through quality education. No one is more deserving of this recognition.”
Several other members of Francis Marion’s faculty were honored during last week’s ceremony:
Dr. Fred R. David
Dr. David P. Franck
Jack G. Griffith
Dr. Kevin J. Lasher
Dr. Ronald T. Murphy
Charlene Wages, Shared Governance Award
Steven Sims, Head of Access Services and Associate Professor
Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Dr. Erica Johnson-Edwards, Associate Professor of History
Award for Excellence in Teaching
Padmaja Rao, Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Award in Excellence in Research and Scholarship
Dr. Jeremey D. Rentsch, Associate Professor of Biology