College Receives $500,000 Gift to Establish Innovative Integrator Space
Campus News

A successful Indianapolis businessman, John D. Peterson, and his wife, Nancy, have established a $500,000 endowed fund at Franklin College to create an exciting new engaged learning opportunity and space for students, alumni and the community. This is the second notable gift the college has announced in recent days.

The John and Nancy Peterson Endowment for Innovation and Leadership Development will establish “The Hive at Franklin College.” This unique program will enrich the educational experience of hundreds of students pursuing degrees in business, leadership, mathematics, technology and other fields in which interaction with business and nonprofit leaders is beneficial. As an integrator, The Hive will reinforce the collective spirit of innovation. Students will realize that collaboration, not isolation, fosters innovation and the exploration of unfamiliar ways of thinking and problem solving.  Such interaction can create new and better ideas and processes.

“Nancy and I are delighted to support Franklin College in this way,” said John Peterson. “During my time as a Trustee, I developed such a love for the College, and in particular, its students.  The commitment they have to an education that prepares them for the world of work is inspiring, and the fact that this gift will support these students in their pursuit of success is deeply gratifying to both Nancy and me.” 

In a 2013 survey of business and nonprofit leaders, the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) discovered that innovation is a top priority in today’s marketplace. According to their data, nearly all employers surveyed (95 percent) say they give hiring preference to college graduates with skills that will enable them to contribute to innovation in the workplace and 92 percent agreed that innovation is essential to their organization’s success.

The Hive will offer a professional setting for students, alumni and friends of the college in which to create and to connect around ideas, services and new business concepts. It will consist of three integrative platforms that will allow for both learning and genuinely collaborative opportunities:

  1. The Hive Consulting Services will allow student teams to meet client goals through the application of relevant knowledge and skills. The Hive consulting teams may work as part of a course or as ad hoc consulting groups.


  1. The Launch Pad will facilitate small- or large-group sharing sessions for anyone looking to pilot new or to refine existing approaches to problems. Sessions are open to students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members who seek feedback on their ideas. The Launch Pad empowers participants to take risks, ask good questions, challenge existing thinking and gain valuable feedback on new business concepts, research questions, community needs and prototypes.


  1. Students will have the opportunity to explore their creativity through Technology, New Media and Creative Play Innovation. Recognizing that creativity and innovation are closely related, the best ideas often come from playing with tradition and pushing against convention. Students will have access to digital, video/audio and other equipment and an environment conducive to play. This safe, energizing space will enable all participants to comfortably ask “What if we try this?” This feature is designed to allow the brain to play, construct and innovate.


The college is currently conducting a search for a director of leadership and innovation to manage the new program.

Peterson served on the Franklin College Board of Trustees from 1988 to 2003, acting as treasurer from 1992 to 2003. He was awarded associate alumnus status in 2000 and emeritus trustee status in 2003.  Peterson has made a significant impact on the lives of many individuals in the Franklin College community and beyond through generous gifts and selfless service. In 2017, the college recognized his service and impact on the institution by awarding him with an honorary degree at Commencement.

Professionally, Peterson has served the business of investment banking and the state of Indiana for more than five decades, enjoying a remarkable record of success in securities. He and Nancy currently reside in Zionsville, Ind.

For more information, contact the Franklin College Office of Communications at (317) 738-8185.


(Edited Jan. 27, 2020)

POSTED Sep 25, 2018