December 20, 2004: Headlines: COS - Peru: University Administration: The State News: McPherson punches out

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Peru: Special Report: MSU President and Peru RPCV Peter McPherson: December 20, 2004: Headlines: COS - Peru: University Administration: The State News: McPherson punches out

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 7:51 pm: Edit Post

McPherson punches out

McPherson punches out

McPherson punches out

Remembering a president: Legacy of 'McPete' includes law school, study abroad, cigar love


The State News

KATIE RAUSCH · The State News

Into the wee hours of the night, he can be seen chomping on a Philly Titan cigar in his office.

He's impatient - he wants everything to be done yesterday so he can move onto a new project, said Fred Poston, vice president for Finance and Operations.

Others who know MSU President M. Peter McPherson have described his office as one that looks like a cyclone hit it.

And those are the qualities people closest to McPherson say they will miss most when he steps down from the university's top post on Jan. 1.

McPherson, who has spent 11 years as MSU's president, saw the university through state budget cuts and rising tuition costs.

The McPherson years are characterized by many as a time of tremendous campus growth as McPherson helped to bring the former Detroit College of Law to campus and began the Capital Campaign to finance MSU programs through private donations.

"We made tremendous strides in accomplishing major projects under his leadership," MSU Board of Trustees member Dee Cook said. "The law school - that was one of the bigger projects. To take a private law school and put it on the campus of a public university is an incredible feat, and it took a lot of creative thinking to get that done."

That creative thinking and the accomplishments that come from it take a lot out of McPherson, Poston said.

"He never sleeps - he just takes these little power naps," Poston said. "All of us who have worked closely with him have had these 11:30 (p.m.), 'I just want to ask you one question,' McPherson calls. He does like to work, and he spent a tremendous amount of time worrying about the university."

Others who have seen him through his presidency say while he is a hard worker, McPherson also holds many qualities some might be surprised to find out about.

Sharin Noall, executive staff assistant to McPherson, agreed that he works hard.

McPherson works so much, in fact, Noall said she has had to remind him to tuck in his shirt tail or put on a suit coat before an important meeting. McPherson is so wrapped up in work, he sometimes forgets the small details, she said.

But Noall, who has worked as McPherson's assistant for more than four years, said the president loves to joke, laugh and have fun, too.

"Sometimes people don't realize he does take the time to kind of kick back a bit," Noall said. "On Friday, at end of a busy week, we chit-chat about his grandchildren. He loves to talk about them and tell stories, and he will just laugh and laugh."

Other lesser-known quirky qualities about McPherson include his allergy to corn. McPherson said he can get large headaches from any kind of corn.

So when the MSU alumnus came back to campus in 1993, the Sparty's Convenience Store in the Administration Building had to stop carrying the popcorn they sell at every other Sparty's on campus.

The microwave in the store also includes a sign that states, "please refrain from popping popcorn," said Sparty's General Manager Ken Deneau.

McPherson also has inspired other areas near campus to make adjustments to their product lines.

The 7-Eleven at 918 E. Grand River Ave. carries Philly Titan cigars just for McPherson, store manager Joe Maurer said. Maurer said McPherson visits the store three-to-four times a week to buy his favorite cigars.

McPherson agrees he's a regular customer.

"I go in there a lot - they're really going to miss me," McPherson said, laughing.

When he's not taking a work break to buy some cigars, McPherson gets down to business by facing MSU's toughest problems head-on, Cook said.

"The man loves a good challenge - intellectual and otherwise," Cook said, adding that if others disagree with his views, he hears them out. "There was always an opportunity for you to comment on an issue, and he saw you were given an opportunity to express your ideas. If you didn't, he'd ask you to."

And Wayne Cass, chairman of the MSU Coalition of Labor Organizations, said McPherson treated everyone's ideas equally.

Cass said when many people think of McPherson, they might see him as right wing or conservative. But in his relations with campus unions, McPherson didn't let politics influence any decision, he added.

"I suppose there is this perception of him being right wing, but in his relationship with labor on campus, he was open and inclusive about getting staff and employee involvement on all of the issues that were important to us," he said.

As McPherson moves on to the next phase of his life, he said he hopes to continue to keep Sparty in his heart as he works on different MSU projects as a university consultant in Washington, D.C.

McPherson said he wants to be involved in the university's bid for the Rare Isotope Accelerator and other MSU issues.

He and his wife Joanne will live in Arlington, Va., near his son and grandchildren.

While in D.C., McPherson will work on several volunteer boards such as the Partnership to Cut Hunger in Africa and the Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program Commission. He also said he might have time to take another corporate board position and is "talking to some people about other commercial activity."

McPherson is currently on the Dow Jones Board of Directors.

But as he moves on toward the nation's capital, McPherson said he will miss and fondly remember MSU's campus community.

"There's not that many ranges of people in the government as there are on campus," McPherson said. "I will miss the people I've worked with and the campus environment (and) the vitality of the student body - there's really no other place like it."

Jaclyn Roeschke can be reached at

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.

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Story Source: The State News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Peru; University Administration



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