Biography of Lawrence Pettit
Dr. Lawrence K. Pettit was born on May 2, 1937, in Lewistown, MT, and received his education at the University of Montana (B.A.), Washington University in St. Louis (M.A.), and the University of Wisconsin, Madison (Ph.D). Dr. Pettit has had dual careers in politics and higher education. Politically, he has served as legislative assistant to U.S. Senators James E. Murray and Lee Metcalf, campaign manager, head of transition team and assistant to Montana Governor Thomas L. Judge, was a candidate in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives from Montana, and represented the nation’s colleges and universities in Washington, D.C. while on the professional staff of the American Council on Education.
Academically, Dr. Pettit taught political science at The Pennsylvania State University (main campus), was chair of political science at Montana State University, CEO of the Montana University System, Deputy Commissioner for Academic Programs at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Chancellor of the University System of South Texas (since merged with Texas A&M University), President of Southern Illinois University (titled “Chancellor” at that time), and President of Indiana University of Pennsylvania for eleven years, from where he retired in 2003. He has served as chair of the Commission on Leadership for the American Council on Education, president of the National Association of (University) System Heads, and on many national and state boards and commissions in higher education. Throughout his career, Pettit has been an active participant as speaker and panelist for a number of higher education organizations. He has authored and co-authored a number of articles in political science and higher education, and three books in political science.
Dr. Pettit is a former member of the Duquesne Club of Pittsburgh, Nueces Club of Corpus Christi, TX, , and the Indiana Country Club in PA. He is a member of the Montana Club of Helena, MT, is a Rotarian (Paul Harris Fellow), and is a life member of both the Pennsylvania Society and the Sigma Chi Fraternity (Significant Sig). He also is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, scholastic honorary, and has received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. He is listed in Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World.
After retirement Dr. Pettit donated a year to a non-profit organization on education and the environment, and has consulted for various clients, including part of the NAFTA secretariat and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. His memoir on politics and the university was published in March 25, 2010 titled, If You Live by the Sword: Politics in the Making and Unmaking of a University President.
Dr Pettit has two daughters, two sons, and five grandchildren.
Pettit, Lawrence and Barrett, Evan, "Biography of Lawrence Pettit" (2016). Biographies and Photos of Series Participants. 47.