News from the Aurora University community

Aurora University names new dean for Woodstock Center campus; Former Lakewood village manager to start Sept. 12

Posted by on July 27, 2016

Aurora University (AU) has named Catherine J. Peterson as dean of its Woodstock Center campus. Previously, Peterson was the village manager of Lakewood, a position she held since 2002. She will begin her new role with AU on Sept. 12.

During a 30-year career in public administration, Peterson distinguished herself in a variety of management and leadership positions with municipalities throughout northern Illinois, including Downers Grove, Richmond, Wheeling and Woodstock. She also taught management and public policy at Columbia College (Chicago) from 1995 to 1998.

Peterson received her master’s degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University in 1986 and a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from the University of Southern California in 1984.

“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to work with President Sherrick and the Aurora University leadership team to strengthen AU’s educational mission in McHenry County,” she said. “I have been fortunate to work with local, county and state officials for many years, and during that time I have become well attuned to the role higher education plays in preparing tomorrow’s leaders. I look forward to working with the larger community to increase learning opportunities for our residents.”

Peterson has deep roots in McHenry County. She is a member of Education to Empowerment, a volunteer organization allied with McHenry County College (MCC) that raises money and provides mentoring services for women transitioning from MCC to four-year institutions.

She also was instrumental in bringing the Challenger Learning Center (CLC) to Woodstock in 2001 and has since continued to volunteer with the organization in a variety of capacities.

The CLC is one of 41 similar learning centers across the country created to honor the astronauts killed in the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle explosion. Acquired by AU in 2015, the Center’s mission is to foster children’s interest in STEM learning and space exploration. A must-see destination for field trips, the CLC each year hosts 10,000 students from schools in McHenry County and seven surrounding counties. The Center also offers STEM-related summer camps and institutes, as well as a Science Family Night each month throughout the school year. Upcoming Science Family Nights include Extreme Robotics (building real robots with LEGOS), Spooky Science (just in time for Halloween) and Rendezvous with a Comet (filled with suspense, challenges and emergencies).

“Catherine brings a passion for education along with a unique blend of public service and entrepreneurial thinking that will enable AU to continue strengthening relationships within the community,” said Rebecca L. Sherrick, president of Aurora University. “She is committed to creating an inclusive learning environment that is sensitive — and responsive — to McHenry County’s educational needs.”

As a satellite campus of Aurora University, the Woodstock Center provides students with academic opportunities, a professional network and a convenient location for educational pursuits. It offers evening, weekend and online classes for adults who wish to complete a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in nursing, social work, business or education. Woodstock Center also offers certificate and endorsement programs.

In 2010, the AU Woodstock Center opened to meet the needs of students in McHenry County and surrounding communities. Today, Aurora University and Woodstock Center are thriving places of higher education, rooted in a long tradition of values-based education, where students prepare for lives of meaning, leadership and service to others.

AU enrolls approximately 5,500 students at its main and Orchard Center campuses in Aurora, the AU Woodstock Center campus and at the George Williams College of Aurora University campus in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. AU offers more than 40 undergraduate majors and a wide variety of graduate degrees, certificates and endorsements.

For more information, please visit the AU website and the AU Woodstock Center website.

About Aurora University
Founded in 1893, Aurora University is an inclusive community dedicated to the transformative power of learning. AU is a four-year, nonprofit, independent, liberal arts, co-educational university. The university offers courses on its Orchard Center and main campuses in Aurora, Illinois, as well as in Woodstock, and Williams Bay, Wisconsin, and entirely online. The Higher Learning Commission accredits Aurora University at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.


Media Contact

Steven McFarland
Vice President for University Communications
630-844-5496
smcfarla@aurora.edu