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University of Alabama at Birmingham
About APLU

Our President

Head shot of Peter McPherson
Peter McPherson


Peter McPherson is president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the nation’s oldest higher education association comprised of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and university systems in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, four territories, Canada and Mexico.

McPherson joined APLU as president in January 2006 and brought with him a distinguished background of leadership positions in higher education, government and business.  Under McPherson, APLU has emerged as the leading research, policy, and advocacy organization for public research universities with an active agenda designed to increase degree completion, advance research, and strengthen engagement.  Annually, APLU member campuses enroll 4.8 million undergraduate and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.4 million faculty and staff, and conduct $41.4 billion in university-based research.

At APLU, McPherson has helped lead the development of several key cross-association initiatives, including Project Degree Completion, the Student Achievement Measure, and the Voluntary System of Accountability.  The association has also become known for its robust advocacy arm that works with Congress and the administration to advance federal policies that strengthen public research universities.

" Public universities educate the majority of students attending four year degrees in this country and provide opportunities for students from all economic backgrounds. They are absolutely central to the future prosperity and strength of this country. "
- Peter McPherson

Professional Experience

  • President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (2006-Present)
  • President, Michigan State University (1993-2004)
  • Executive Vice President, Bank of America (1989-93)
  • Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury - focused on trade, tax, and international issues and was one of the principal U.S. negotiators for the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (1987-89)
  • Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) (1981-87)
  • Partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease (1977-80)
  • Special Assistant to President Gerald Ford (1975-77)

Board & Service Positions

  • Chair and Co-Founder, Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa
  • Chair of the Board, Harvest Plus (an organization working to breed crops for better nutrition)
  • Board of Trustees, Gerald R. Ford Foundation
  • Former chair of the Board of Directors of Dow Jones and Company
  • Former Chair of the Board of International Fertilizer Development Center (an international center dealing with soil fertility and agricultural development)
  • Former Director of Economic Policy for the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq (took a five month leave from Michigan State University to work with the Iraqi Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Iraq, and the country’s banks – involved opening up the banks, a new currency for the country, etc.)
  • Former Chair of Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Commission
  • Peace Corps Volunteer, Peru


  • U. S. Presidential Certificate of Outstanding Achievement
  • The Secretary of State Distinguished Leadership Award
  • The Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton Award
  • The UNICEF award for “Outstanding Contribution to Child Survival”
  • The Humanitarian of the Year award from the American Lebanese League
  • Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award
  • Banker of the Year Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2005, from the U.S. Bankers Association for Finance and Trade
  • Honorary Doctorates from Michigan State University, University of Maine, Virginia State University, and Mount St. Mary’s College.


  • B.A., Michigan State University
  • M.B.A., Western Michigan University
  • J.D., American University