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About APLU

Our President

Head shot of Peter McPherson
Peter McPherson


M. Peter McPherson is President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), a North American higher education association representing public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, working to advance college access and completion, and bolster university-community engagement.

Download Peter McPherson's Full Bio

McPherson served in a variety of positions in the Ford and Reagan administrations. He served as a Special Assistant to President Gerald Ford. In the Reagan administration, he led the United States Agency for International Development (the U.S. foreign aid program). He later served as Deputy Secretary of the U. S. Department of Treasury. In 1987, he was a principal negotiator in the final weeks of negotiations of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, the forerunner of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Immediately before coming to APLU in 2006, he served as President of Michigan State University for 11 years, where his work included vastly increasing study abroad participation, controlling tuition costs, bringing an independent law school to Michigan State, and increasing research.

A tax lawyer by profession, he was also managing partner of the Washington D.C. office of a large Midwestern law firm. He later served as an Executive Vice President of Bank of America, where his responsibilities included the bank’s operations in Canada and Latin America.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, an M.B.A. from Western Michigan State University, and a J.D. from American University.

" Public universities educate the majority of students attending four-year institutions 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 of the Board, Harvest Plus (an organization working to breed crops for better nutrition)
  • Board of Trustees, Gerald R. Ford Foundation
  • Co-Founder and Former Chair, Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa
  • 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