Peterson Retires After 43 Years at Butler Community College | Butler Community College

Peterson Retires After 43 Years at Butler Community College

Bob Peterson set to retire this year, following final production as a Butler instructor.
Jacob Phillips of Newton and Jordan Pryor of Park City interact with Bob Peterson, theatre chair, during practice in the Butler Community College theatre foyer. The new comedy play, "Harvey" will be held April 18-20 and will feature an invisible, six-foot-tall rabbit. (Photo Credit: Rodney Dimick)
Published: Monday, April 15th, 2024

Culminating his 52 years of teaching, Peterson ends career with upcoming Butler play, "Harvey."

Written by: Caleb Sanderson

After 43 years teaching and being a professional inspiration to students in the Butler Community College Theatre Department, Bob Peterson is set to retire at the end of this academic year. Peterson exits Butler following his last Butler play, Harvey

Harvey will be performed in the 700 Building theatre on the El Dorado campus. Showtimes are Thursday, April 18 through Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. show on Saturday as well. This will be Peterson’s last play he directs as a Butler instructor. Tickets can be reserved on the Box Office page. 

“Butler has been so good to me,” Peterson remarked. “Butler has provided me with a platform to create and produce my own work. Thanks to Butler, Alvin the Alligator was created. He has entertained elementary school children for the past 22 years.” 

Alvin the Alligator, an annual piece created by Peterson about a friendly alligator named Alvin, has become a generational favorite activity for local families. Many parents who attended the plays when they were younger now share that experience with their own children. 

Peterson’s career began in 1972 as a Topeka High School teacher. Multi-award-winning actress Jayne Houdyshell, who won a Tony Award for her role in The Humans, was one of Peterson’s first students. 

“My students constantly inspire me,” Peterson said. “They continue to motivate me in ways they don’t understand. I have been very proud of my students. Many have worked in the industry and beyond – from working in the film industry to professional theatre to teachers to lawyers to being fine parents.” 

Following his time at Topeka High School, he taught at Newman University and then started his position at Butler in 1981. The first play he directed at Butler was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and the first play he wrote and produced at Butler was called First Boy. Peterson has even acted in one of his own works, entitled Barbershop Quartet

“I later wrote and directed Heaven Ajar, the story about President Coolidge’s sons,” Peterson enthused. “I wrote in cooperation with President Coolidge’s oldest son, John. I have reworked it and presented it at Butler under the title of Angels Charge.” 

Although Peterson’s professional involvement with Butler is coming to “curtains closed,” he is looking forward to moving on with personal endeavors. “I look at retirement as Act Three,” Peterson expressed. “I have several projects planned. I look forward to having the time to realize them.”