Behind the scenes of OU with Lisa Peterson


Photo courtesy of Lisa Peterson

OU’s Assistant to the Dean of the School of Business, Lisa Peterson, is responsible for lots of behind the scenes planning.

As a university, there are a lot of people behind the scenes the community just doesn’t get to hear a lot about. At Oakland University, Lisa Peterson helps keep the Dean of the School of Business on their toes and keeps things organized that many people wouldn’t think about.

Peterson has been working at OU for 22 years, and is currently the Assistant to the Dean of the School of Business, while also attending Oakland University for her Human Resource (HR) Development degree and a minor in marketing. She makes all the Dean’s calendar appointments, coordinates events and coordinates faculty and staff. She fills the role of being an HR assistant to the office, doing a little bit of everything. 

“I’m responsible for all of the research proposals that come in,” Peterson said. “For the review of those, for faculty reviews, for merit, I work on all this stuff. So I’m really the HR person in my office, on top of working for the Dean”

Prior to working for the Dean, Peterson worked on fundraising in the development office. 

She still has about two years left before she graduates. Since she works at OU and also attends OU, she understands the struggles from both perspectives — especially during the pandemic and the transition between in-person and online.

“It’s a learning curve for faculty, just like students,” Peterson said. “I actually would say, given the technology is more now than probably when our faculty were students, it can be a challenge for them. So for them to be able to teach classes remotely and teach synchronously and asynchronously — I think I can speak for the school business faculty [when I say] they’ve done a wonderful job.”

Peterson has yet to fully start her minor, so she has not yet experienced having a professor in the School of Business, but she is certain the professors, as well as herself, will remain professional throughout the classes.

“I love being a student and I don’t think you’re ever too old to learn — I’m learning amongst the best,” Peterson said. “I think I’m at an advantage because I work at a place where people teach.”

Peterson lived in Port Huron and started her higher education journey at St. Clair Community College, then transferred to Macomb. When she finally fransfered to OU she had 64 credits toward her degree.

While also working on her degree, Peterson is preparing for a new Dean that will be joining the university in the summer. This will be the seventh Dean that Peterson has personally worked with. She will be working on catching them up to speed about everything happening at the university such as unions, policies and faculty contracts.

“Every personality was different. Every learning curve was different. And everybody has their own style of management,” Peterson said.

There is a lot that needs to be done behind the scenes. Peterson runs many events that help the university run smoothly. She has put together golf outings, faculty receptions, alumni breakfasts and board meetings. She also has organized many out of state alumni events that have been super successful.

All meetings, such as executive committee meetings and assembly meetings that have to happen bi-weekly with all the staff, have been organized by Peterson. 

Everything that is done needs to be planned — and Peterson is the person to do it. She’s stuck by OU’s side since 2000, and has been the backbone of the Dean’s office.

“I always say my boss is the pretty face, and I’m behind the scenes, he gets a kick out of that,” Peterson said. “But my job is really behind the scenes and it’s making sure everything upfront works well for him. It’s important that his image is professional and we’re putting our best foot forward.”