First Buffett Institute director finalist visits UNL today

Carla A. Peterson
Carla A. Peterson

The first of four finalists for the position of founding executive director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute will visit the University of Nebraska this week.

Carla A. Peterson will visit the university Feb. 1-2. She will participate in a UNL open forum for faculty, staff, students and the public at 4 p.m., Feb. 1 in the Van Brunt Visitors Center. A second forum is planned for 3:30 p.m., Feb. 2 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Roskens Hall, room 412. Each forum will be followed by a reception.

Peterson has worked with early childhood programs for more than 35 years, and has held leadership and teaching positions in public and private agencies serving young children who are typically developing and who have disabilities. She has worked with programs operated by public schools, Head Start grantees, and private child care providers.

Peterson earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University (1975), a Master of Arts from the University of South Dakota (1981), and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota (1991). Currently, she is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Human Sciences at Iowa State University, where she has been affiliated since 1992.

Peterson teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in early childhood services and played a leadership role in development and implementation of Iowa State University’s Early Childhood Education – unified curriculum that prepares students to work with children, typically developing and with disabilities, from birth through age eight. Peterson has been involved in several externally funded personnel preparation projects that have involved collaborative efforts across departments. Her research pursuits are focused on enhancing early development, care, and education services for young children, with special emphasis on those who are at risk for poor developmental outcomes or have disabilities.

Three additional finalists for the Buffett Institute executive director position will visit NU in February and March.

The Buffett Institute, made possible by a generous gift from Omaha philanthropist Susie Buffett that will be more than matched by other public and private funds, will be a university-wide, multidisciplinary research, education, outreach, and policy center that will seek to transform the approach to early childhood development and education in Nebraska and across the nation.

The primary focus of the new institute will be on the learning and healthy development of children from birth to age eight, with special attention to those children who are vulnerable because of poverty, abuse, or developmental, learning or behavioral challenges. The institute will strive to create a new model for how a 21st-century public university can help to drive the creation of better systems for understanding child learning and development and delivering education and other services to young children and their families.

— Dara Troutman, NU Central Administration

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