Peterson Family Foundation Makes Transformational Gift

Corey Schaut

Milt and Carolyn Peterson have long believed in the value a university could bring to Northern Virginia, that it would transform the region from a bedroom community to a dynamic economy.

Their commitment to George Mason University has been passed down to their children as well.

This week, the Peterson family further solidified their commitment to Mason with one of the largest gifts ever to the university: $10 million to the College of Health and Human Services and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The gift will help support research, scholarship and health care education.

“The Peterson family’s gift is truly transformational. It creates tremendous academic opportunities for our students and faculty, and will ultimately enrich our community through the work we do in health care and the arts,” said George Mason President Ángel Cabrera. “I am grateful for their vision, friendship, and the example they continue to set. The Petersons’ endorsement shows that investing in Mason is one of the most effective ways to help our community thrive.”

The 160,000-square-foot health sciences building is expected to open in 2017. The building, which will be named in honor of the Peterson family, will be a new home for much of the College of Health and Human Services, bringing many health-related programs under one roof. It will include a working health clinic that will be open to the public, a kitchen where students will practice nutrition science, and labs for nursing, health care data and rehabilitation studies.

It will include a working health clinic that will be open to the public, a kitchen where students will practice nutrition science, and labs for nursing, health care data and rehabilitation studies.

The $8 million gift for the College of Health and Human Services complements more than $65 million in funding approved by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the health sciences building.

One million dollars of the gift will create the Peterson Family Scholarship Endowment in the Vocal Arts, and another $1 million will establish the Peterson Excellence Fund. The Excellence Fund will support priority needs within the college.

The Petersons have previously contributed more than $2.5 million to Mason to support academics, the arts and athletics.

Milt Peterson, the founder of Peterson Companies, has spearheaded several high-profile real estate ventures across the region including Fairfax Corner, the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, and National Harbor. Carolyn Peterson, an avid arts patron, has served on several committees and boards at the university, including the Mason Foundation Board of Trustees.

In recognition of their service to the community and support of George Mason, Milt and Carolyn Peterson each received the Mason Medal in 2008.

“Our family believes strongly in giving back to the communities we serve, and we view this gift as another strategic investment in Mason and in our region,” said Jon Peterson, principal at Peterson Companies and a current member of Mason’s Board of Visitors. “This gift won’t just build a building and provide scholarship or program support. Over time, it has the potential to save and change lives. We are grateful to be in a position to make that sort of difference for our community.”

As the backbone of Mason’s health sciences, the College of Health and Human Services notably educates nurses, but also economists, global and public health specialists, social workers, and those involved in health care policy, rehabilitation, and nutrition sciences, among other key areas.

“We can’t thank the Petersons enough for making this transformational gift and truly being our champions over the years,” said Janet Bingham, vice president of university advancement and alumni relations and president of the George Mason University Foundation. “Gifts like these help propel the university forward—moving us farther, faster, for the greater good.”

June 16, 2015