Distinguished Alumni Awards

W. W. Patty Distinguished Alumni Award
James A. Peterson - 2003

A native of Elkhart, Indiana, James A. Peterson received his bachelor’s in social science from Hanover College and his master’s in recreation and park administration from Indiana University. Jim is also a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Jim began his professional career as a recreation center director and city-wide supervisor in Kansas City. He served as superintendent of recreation in Evansville, Indiana for more than seven years, and for twenty-three years as a member of the faculty of Indiana University. In 1967 he was given a joint appointment, serving as a member of the administration for the department of recreation and park administration, and also as a specialist in recreation and parks with the Cooperative Extension Service of Purdue University. This dual appointment provided an unusual opportunity to bring resources of these two great universities together on important problems in the park and recreation field.

In addition to supervising county and community recreation studies throughout Indiana, Jim has served as a private consultant for park and recreation studies throughout the United States. He also served as a consultant for the U.S. Navy. A leader in the development of international studies in the park and recreation movement, in the fall of 1973, Jim returned from a six-month, around-the-world sabbatical leave that took him to nineteen countries in Europe and Asia, visiting with park and recreation administrators in forty-five major cities of the world.

Active in professional circles, Jim is past chairman of the Midwest and Great Lakes regional councils of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the first recipient of the Great Lakes Outstanding Professional Award. He served as general program chairman of the first National Congress for Parks and Recreation in Washington, DC, in 1966 and again in Phoenix in 1980—the only professional to serve in this capacity twice in his career.

At the state level, because of Jim’s long-standing leadership in Indiana, he was awarded the Indiana Park and Recreation Association’s two highest awards, the Man of the Year Award and appointment as Distinguished Life Member. He has also been given the 1982 Hanover College Alumni Achievement Award, elected as a charter member of the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration, and was named a Sagamore of the Wabash in 1988.