New College of Florida has announced a $2.1 million gift through a charitable remainder trust created by Sarasota philanthropists Lee and Bob Peterson.  The gift is among the largest in the College’s nearly 50 year history. Funds from the trust will provide academic enhancements directed toward both student and faculty support at New College, which is the state honors college for the liberal arts.
In recognition of the Peterson’s generous support of New College, administration announced that one of the College’s five new residence halls, which opened last year, will be named Lee and Bob Peterson Residence Hall.  A dedication ceremony is scheduled for early November.
Well known for their support of education, the arts, medicine and mental health research at both the local and national levels, the Petersons began their affiliation with New College in 1995.  The following year, Bob and Lee co-chaired the College’s Action Auction, helping to raise nearly $250,000 during the event.  Bob subsequently joined the New College Foundation Board of Trustees in 1997 and held numerous leadership positions on the Board before becoming a trustee emeritus in spring 2008.  He was appointed to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees in 2006 and continues to serve in that position.  In recognition of the couple’s contributions to New College, the great hall at The Keating Center, home to the New College Foundation, was named Peterson Hall in 2004.
In announcing the Peterson’s gift, New College President Mike Michalson said, “Bob and Lee Peterson have been involved with New College for many years as strong advocates of honors-level undergraduate education. You won’t find two nicer people, and it is a privilege to enjoy their generous support. We are thrilled that we can recognize the Peterson’s commitment to New College by naming one of our new residence halls after them.”
A classically-trained vocalist, Lee Peterson spent several years as an opera singer performing on Broadway and touring nationally during her early career. Since the couple’s relocation to Sarasota in 1986, she has served as president of the Asolo Theatre and on the board of directors for the Sarasota Opera and the Sarasota Ballet. Bob Peterson is a veteran of World War II and the Korean War and holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and an LL.M. from New York University.  Following a brief stint as assistant to the dean for the University of Pennsylvania Law School, he worked for United Parcel Service (UPS) for 33 years.  During that time, he served as Secretary, Senior Vice President and Group Head for UPS and participated in the company’s expansion while coordinating the activities of law firms throughout the United States.
For more information on the Peterson’s gift to New College, please contact Jake Hartvigsen in the Office of Public Affairs at (941) 487-4150 or email