Close

About the Leah Peterson Learning Commons

Walk through the spacious Learning Commons, and you will quickly discover NNU is serious about academic inquiry. The new 57,000-square-foot facility is dedicated to assisting students as they learn and educators as they teach.

The multifunctional Learning Commons houses the John E. Riley Library’s traditional print collections and has a variety of study spaces designed to address different learning needs; it offers group study rooms, cozy window-seat niches, a quiet reading room, testing rooms, an instructional lab and computer workstations. There’s even The Bean, NNC’s soda shop of the 40s and 50s, revisioned as a new campus coffee shop available to befriend early birds and night owls during their study sessions.

Students will no longer have to traverse campus to access technology and media assistance, academic coaching or peer tutoring. The Learning Commons is now home to most academic service units of the university, including the following partners: Center for Academic Success and Advising, Center for Online and Blended Learning, Information Technology, Technology and Media Resources, Library, and University Archives. The Commons will also be home to the growing NNU Doceo- Center for innovation in teaching and learning.


Mrs. Leah Peterson

A native Idaho teacher, Mrs. Leah (Webster) Peterson spent one year at NNC—earning her teaching certificate in 1928—but for her it was enough time to receive an impression she would carry her entire life. After her death in 2007, she honored NNU with a gift of $7 million, signifying the impact that NNU made on her life and her long-held passion for Christian education. Her generosity began the building process for the Leah Peterson Learning Commons—a state-of-the-art academic facility that includes an expanded library and a myriad of technology resources.

After leaving NNC in 1928, Peterson began teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in the isolated Salmon River backcountry of Idaho. She married fellow educator Chester Peterson in 1930, and the couple moved to Alaska in 1939 to continue teaching.

Throughout her 42 years of service with the Anchorage School System, Peterson’s vocations included elementary school teacher, remedial reading specialist, supervisor, curriculum coordinator, elementary director and principal. She wrote a social science textbook, “This is Alaska,” which was adopted by the state of Alaska for use throughout the state.

Dr. John E. Riley

Since its dedication in 1966, the John E. Riley Library—named for NNU’s longest-serving president—has stood as an academic cornerstone and testimony to the man who valued ministry and Christian higher education enough to dedicate his life to serving both.

John E. Riley graduated with honors from Eastern Nazarene College (ENC), earned a master’s in theology from Boston University and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity from ENC. He moved to Nampa, Idaho in 1944; for eight years, he pastored College Church of the Nazarene and taught philosophy and theology at the neighboring college. In 1952 he was elected president of NNC and spent the next 21 years in that role.

During his years as president, the student body grew, the number of faculty with advanced degrees increased, the academic component of the college was strengthened and a dozen new buildings either were built or saw substantial structural additions. Dr. Riley worked hard to maintain student-administration relations during difficult decades and inspired confidence in those who worked with him.