daffodils in front of the Feliciano School of Business

Professor Emeritus Richard L. Peterson Continues to Inspire New Generations of Montclair Students

Posted in: Feliciano School of Business

On May 16, 2024, in a room full of Montclair alumni, Dr. Richard L. Peterson learned a little something about the impact one professor can have.

“Some students mentioned things that I said in class 15 or 20 years ago,” he says with surprise.

As a member of the Carpe Diem Society, Montclair’s circle of donors who have included the University in their estate plans, Peterson is ensuring that his impact continues far into the future. “It’s all about supporting the students,” he points out.

Yet Peterson never really set out to become an educator. “In the 1980s, I was working in publishing, for McGraw Hill,” he explains. “That’s where I met two Montclair professors who were authoring books. One of them was teaching records management. She found out I was living in Montclair and invited me to teach as an adjunct instructor.”

It is hard to imagine today, but at the time computer technology as a business tool was in its infancy. Montclair was at the cutting edge with a program in Business Education and Office Systems Administration. “Our students were secretaries and people who were planning to teach secretarial skills in high schools,” Peterson recalls.

“The department evolved along with the technology,” he continues. “We began with large computers owned by outside companies. Then desktop PCs came along, and the University built its own computer services team. We started teaching word processing and spreadsheet programs, and then branched out into management information systems.”

As Montclair’s academic programs grew into this new space, Peterson’s involvement with the University deepened. “By 1995 I was a consultant in the information technology field, which meant an extensive travel schedule,” he says. “I wanted to be in one place. Fortunately, I was able to join the Montclair faculty full-time, and became chair of the Information Management and Business Analytics Department.”

Peterson held that role until 2010. He stayed on as a member of the faculty, and in 2013 he co-chaired the department’s curriculum revision initiative. Over the course of his academic career, he has taught courses in management information systems, systems analysis and design, decision support systems, telecommunications and database issues, office information systems, management science, statistics, business research, business communications, and personal finance. In addition, Peterson authored, and co-authored, numerous books, book chapters, peer-reviewed articles, and proceedings. In 2009, he earned an Outstanding Empirical Research Paper award from the Decision Sciences Institute.

Many of the accolades Peterson acquired over the years relate as much to service as to scholarship, including honorary member and advisor, Alpha Kappa Psi (September 1998); the George Abrams Award for Outstanding Service, Alpha Kappa Psi (1998 and 1999); member, Phi Kappa Phi (2002); member, Beta Gamma Sigma (2001); Outstanding Service Award for Service Learning, Montclair State University (2000); and the Service Award from the International Academy of Business and Public Administration Disciplines (2009).

Peterson retired as a full-time professor in 2022, but he continues to teach as an adjunct and emeritus professor. His primary focus is on business communications and public speaking. “The ability to communicate effectively is so fundamental, no matter what career you choose,” Peterson notes.

Perhaps that helps explain why, when asked to help organize an alumni luncheon, Peterson wanted to focus on a smaller event that would allow for lots of conversation. “I have kept in touch with a lot of my former students, mentoring many over the course of their careers,” he says. “It was so much fun to see them all together and to share memories.”

Many of those memories involved Peterson’s emphasis on hands-on experiential learning. “In the early 2000s, a lot of small organizations – daycare centers, schools, and social agencies in particular – didn’t have computers,” he recalls. “I engaged students in refurbishing used computers in offices and then training the staff in how to use them.”

“I owe much of my current path to Dr. Peterson’s guidance and encouragement,” says Ore Fasehun ’07, ’10 MS, now a corporate development and finance lead at Motherson Group. “Without the scholarship that enabled me to attend graduate school, and without Dr. Peterson’s mentorship, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Of his recent estate planning commitment, Peterson says, “My wife and I would like to memorialize the many connections we have with Montclair. In addition to my long career as a professor, my mother-in-law worked as a secretary at the University for many years. And when my father-in-law retired, he audited courses for fun – he so enjoyed meeting the students.”

At the same time, Peterson hopes his philanthropy will help students now, and in the future. “I have always had a lot of admiration for Montclair students. They are often the first in their families to go to college, and they are extremely hardworking, intelligent and loyal,” he says.

“The alumni who came to our luncheon had been with their companies for 10 or 15 years! That is an amazing level of commitment. Any company would do well to hire a Montclair graduate. Any donor would do well to support them!”