Jo Anne Leonard Petersen Chair in Gerontology and Family Studies

December 31, 1995

Jo Anne "Jody" Leonard attended OSU in the 1940s, graduating in 1947 with a degree in home economics. The former Silverton High School graduate met her husband-to-be, Donald Petersen, at an OSU student dance, and the two were married in 1948. He went on to receive an engineering degree from the University of Washington and eventually became chairman of Ford Motor Company.

Jo Anne Leonard Petersen HeadshotJody Petersen had special interests in young children, literacy, and the elderly. She became especially concerned with gerontological issues while taking care of both her parents and her husband's parents. Research into all three areas has been significantly enhanced by her contributions to OSU.

In 1989 Petersen made a generous contribution to the OSU gerontology program and the then-new Mercedes A. Bates Family Studies Center in the College of Home Economics and Education (now the College of Health). A wing of the Family Studies Center was named in her honor.

Jo Anne Leonard Petersen and Donald Petersen headshotIn 1995 the Petersens deepened this commitment to family issues by establishing an endowment for the Jo Anne Leonard Petersen Chair in Gerontology and Family Studies. The chair allowed OSU to expand its teaching, research, and scholarly activity in the fields of aging and family studies. The College of Health now offers additional undergraduate and graduate instruction in gerontology and invites a visiting scholar for one term each year.

Jody and Donald Peterson both passed away in 2024.




Current Faculty Holder

Suzanne Segerstrom