Peter R. MacDougall

  • Captain
  • Vietnam


Peter R. MacDougall was born in Warren, Rhode Island and attended Warren High School where he was active in athletics and extracurricular activities. He served as class president his freshmen year, vice president his junior year and president his senior year. Peter played football and baseball and was selected as Rhode Island “All State” in football his senior year. In 1957, he continued his education at the University of Rhode Island where he was enrolled in the Army ROTC program. He was a member of the football team and a member of the Phi Mu Delta Fraternity. In addition, Peter was elected President of the Student Senate his senior year and selected as a member of the Blue Key Society and the Sachems Honor Society.

Upon graduation in 1961, he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. Second Lieutenant MacDougall’s first assignment was to Fort Benning, Georgia where he attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course and successfully completed Airborne and Ranger Training. He was immediately assigned to the 7th Infantry Division in South Korea where he gained invaluable experience serving as an Infantry Platoon Leader and Company Commander. His unit was part of the 1st Battle Group defending along the Demilitarized Zone in the mountainous northeast sector. Peter commanded the Combat Support Company whose mission was to prevent enemy infiltration along the DMZ. His headquarters was in Camp Kaiser, and he and his soldiers not only defended the area but were heavily involved in trying to improve the quality of life of the local civilians who had lost everything during the war.

CPT MacDougall and his soldiers worked extensively on the construction of an orphanage in a nearby village. This facility became the centerpiece for support for the hundreds of orphaned children along the DMZ. CPT MacDougall completed the last two months of his 14-month tour as a member of the 7th Infantry Division Football Team coached by the late Captain Don Hollender, West Point All-American. That team had a record of 13-0 and won the Pacific Championship by beating the 25th Division All Stars in Hawaii.

He returned to the United States and was assigned to Ft Dix, New Jersey where he served as the Officer in Charge of the Tactics Committee, 1st Training Brigade. He received an award citation for his high degree of leadership, sound judgement and initiative during this assignment. He was released from active duty in June 1964, returned to Rhode Island, obtained a Graduate Assistant position in the Dean of Students office at URI and continued studies to complete his Master’s Degree in Education at Rhode Island College. He immediately went into the Army Reserves and served for 14 months in a Special Forces unit in the Rhode Island Army National Guard. He was a SF Team Leader during this entire period, and the unit’s focus was on combat readiness and rigorous airborne training.

In fall 1965, he obtained a full-time position in the Dean of Men’s Office at The Pennsylvania State University and enrolled in a Counselor Education Doctoral Program. Following completion of his Doctoral Degree in 1968, he accepted a position at Rutgers University in New Jersey. While at Rutgers, he completed his Army Reserve commitment in a New Jersey Special Forces Reserve Unit. Again, he served as an SF Team Leader. His five-year military career concluded with this assignment.

Peter served as Associate Dean of Students at Rutgers and taught in its Graduate School of Education before heading west to Los Angeles in 1975 to serve as Dean of Student Services at Los Angeles Pierce College. In 1980, he became Director of Student Services and Educational Services with the Los Angeles Community College District and subsequently moved to Santa Barbara to become Superintendent/President of Santa Barbara City College in August 1981.

Within the greater Santa Barbara community, Peter has served as president of the boards of: Cottage Hospital, Santa Barbara County’s United Way, Santa Barbara Partners in Education, Fighting Back and the Santa Barbara Foundation. Additionally, he has served on the boards of the Channel City Club, the Santa Barbara Coalition for Children, Beyond Tolerance, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He served as Chairperson for Cottage Hospital’s highly successful $100 million capital campaign to help build a new Cottage Hospital.

In 1989, he was selected as one of the Top 50 Community Leaders in the Nation by the University of Texas Community College Leadership Program. In 1992, he received the Harry Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award from the Association of California Community College Administrators. He also received the Santa Barbara News-Press Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2000, he was selected as KEYT-Santa Barbara Foundation’s Man of the Year. Peter also received the Robert J. Lagomarsino Award from California State University at Channel Islands, the Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award, and the Excellence in Education Award from the College of Education at The Pennsylvania State University.

While the President of Santa Barbara City College, Peter received the prestigious Westmont Medal. This award is given each year by the college to recognize those in the community whose lives embody the very principles associated with the Christian character of the college: integrity, service, compassion, responsibility, faithfulness, discipline and generosity. Peter MacDougall retired after 21 years as the Superintendent/President of Santa Barbara City College. He was a powerful and effective leader in higher education and in the Santa Barbara community. Following his retirement, he was appointed to the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges initially by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and later Governor Jerry Brown.

During Peter’s retirement dinner, many of his colleagues shared their feelings of admiration and gratitude for his decades of service. Calling MacDougall “the gold standard in volunteerism,” he was presented with a baseball cap from his beloved Boston Red Sox along with a baseball signed by 20 players from the 2013 World Series championship team. Peter MacDougall and his wife Leslie live in Santa Barbara California. He has three children and ten grandchildren. Captain MacDougall’s outstanding leadership and innovation as well as his devotion to the military, his educational institutions and communities reflect great credit upon himself, his family, our country and the University of Rhode Island.