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University of Wisconsin - Madison College of Engineering
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  5. Diane J. Peterson

Diane Peterson photo.

Diane Peterson

Chemical and Biological Engineering

Program Assistant Diane Peterson has been making a difference for the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) for 38 years. Peterson is appreciated for her exceptional organizational skills and ability to work quickly, accurately and efficiently at any task that comes her way.

After beginning in the department as a technical typist in July of 1967, she is now a leader among CBE's classified staff.

Peterson is classified as a university services associate 2; however, her role with the department defies classification. Over the years, her position has changed and broadened tremendously with changes in technology, budget and staffing, and changes in department culture. Yet even as the pace of these changes accelerated in recent years, Peterson has met the challenges brought on by change with cheerful enthusiasm, creativity, a tenacious commitment to timeliness and accuracy, and with absolute dependability.

Among her current responsibilities, Peterson coordinates administration of the entire faculty search process, from advertising position vacancies, to managing approximately 200 applications annually, to coordinating departmental visits and seminar presentations by faculty candidates. Other critical aspects of her responsibilities include purchasing and property control. She prepares all requisitions and blanket orders for the department, handling all requests promptly and accurately, assuring that all purchasing rules are followed scrupulously. In addition, Peterson oversees the departmental copy center, maintaining equipment and assigning access codes to about 250 users.

Peterson has worked with 11 department chairs, with several generations of faculty and staff, and with countless students.

When asked to comment on Peterson's contributions to the department, Chemical & Biological Engineering Professor Charles G. Hill Jr. noted Peterson's superb technical typing skill. "In the days before computers were ubiquitous, it was much harder to lay out equations and to prepare error-free drafts of manuscripts containing extremely large quantities of numbers. I remember one paper based on the thesis of a student that I co-supervised with Clyde Amundson of food science," Hill says. "There must have been well in excess of 10,000 digits in the various tables in the manuscript. As I recall, I found only two or three digits that were in error on the first draft — a truly remarkable circumstance."