A former dean of women and Kansas University alumna has left a $1.1 million gift in her estate to KU to benefit an endowed math professorship.
Martha Peterson, who died in 2006 at the age of 90, earned a bachelor’s degree in math from KU in 1937, a master’s degree in math in 1943 and a doctoral degree in educational psychology and counseling in 1959.
The gift adds to an endowed math professorship established in 2003 to benefit two of Peterson’s longtime friends, math professors Florence Black and Wealthy Babcock. She had said that the two women were her greatest influences on her career in college leadership.
Peterson served as dean of women from 1952 until 1956, while serving in other teaching and administrative roles at KU and studying for her graduate degrees.
She was the first woman to serve on the board of Exxon, and became president of Barnard College — an affiliate of Columbia University — in 1967, and became the first woman president of Beloit College in Beloit, Wis. in 1975.