Martha E. Peterson, 90, president of Barnard College in the turbulent Vietnam War era who went on hold the same position at Beloit College in Wisconsin, died July 14 at her home in Madison, Wis.
Miss Peterson was known for fostering calm at Barnard's campus in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when student demonstrations roiled the neighboring campus of Columbia University.
President of Barnard from 1967 to 1975, she said shortly after her appointment: "I'm not alarmed by student demonstrations. We better try to build bridges of understanding."
At Beloit, where she was president from 1975 to 1981, Miss Peterson was credited with restoring fiscal stability when enrollment and the endowment were shrinking.
Born in Kansas, the only child of a wheat farmer and a reporter, she graduated from the University of Kansas in 1937.
After teaching high school mathematics for several years, she returned to the University of Kansas and earned a master's degree in educational psychology in 1943.
After teaching mathematics at the university, she held adminstrative positions there and at the University of Wisconsin. She completed her doctorate at Kansas in 1959.