North Park University Honors Carroll J. Peterson (CP) With Doctor’s Degree

by G. Timothy Johnson

Tim Johnson presented C.P. for the Doctor of Humane Letters Degree honoris causa at North Park University graduation. Here is the substance of his remarks. —Ed

Born in 1917 in Chicago, Carroll Peterson grew up on the northwest side, near this campus. He attended the Albany Park United Methodist Church for 62 years, serving in many capacities including Sunday School Superintendent and Chairman. In 1943, he married Verla Bayly, the daughter of the Methodist District Superintendent. They have been married for 63 years and have three children, Vaughn, Barry and Doreen, all raised in housing on this campus.

C.P., as he was known to both students and colleagues, began his affiliation with North Park in February of 1946, teaching biology part time in the evening school while also teaching at Northwestern where he had obtained his masters degree. He had a faculty offer for the following fall at Augustana College, his alma mater, but he so enjoyed the atmosphere at North Park—and the offer of campus housing—that he ended up staying here for the next 36 years. In his nearly 25 years of retirement, he has continued his active interest in many hobbies, especially collecting and selling stamps.

C.P. was a superb classroom and laboratory performer—I use that word in its very best sense. He made biology come alive and inspired many young people to pursue careers in science. Even today, many in our class of 1956 (celebrating our 50th Anniversary­) remember the electric atmosphere in the basement of Nyvall hall where C.P. held forth in captivating style, melding substance and humor in unforgettable fashion. I had the great good fortune to serve as his lab assistant in my second year and will always be grateful for the opportunity to learn at the side of a true master of communication. C.P. also served the school in many other academic assignments including Chair of the Division of Science and Mathematics and President of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.

But it was in his positions as residence counselor in various men’s dorms for 12 years and then as Dean of Students for almost 20 years that C.P. may have made his greatest impact on young lives in formation. He had an incredibly well tuned sixth sense when it came to the emotional and spiritual turmoil that sometimes bubbles up in the lives of young college students. He knew instinctively how to prescribe exactly the right mixture of discipline and encouragement. His wit was quick and his good cheer constant. C.P. was also a master of the preemptive strike. He had incredibly sensitive antennae for picking up pranks in the making and quickly identifying the potential perpetrators. Even when he had to administer significant punishment, he always left the dignity of the individual intact. I cannot imagine anyone in God’s creation who was better born to be a Dean of Students.

Finally, on a personal note, I must say that throughout my entire education—which ended up running a little on the long side —no one set forth a better model of sensible scholarship, passion for teaching, and personal integrity. At many points in my life I have remembered the way in which C.P. would “do it”—and that memory has always inspired me and served me well. He was, and is, a role model par excellence. He was an outstanding teacher and friend to many North Parkers.

G. Timothy Johnson is ABC News Medical Editor and Assisting Pastor at Community Covenant, West Peabody, Massachusetts.

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