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October 23, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
In August 2014, Peter G. Gurt began serving as President of Milton Hershey School (MHS), a cost-free, private, coeducational home and school for children from families of lower income. Gurt is an accomplished academic administrator and leader who most recently served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of MHS from 2009-2014.
Upon taking office as the 10th MHS president, Gurt designed an ambitious strategic plan to lead MHS into the future. His 2020 Vision strategy includes increasing enrollment to provide an excellent education to hundreds of new students; developing new approaches to support student success beyond high school; implementing a mission-oriented, values-based professional development model for employees; and enhancing opportunities to engage parents/sponsors in the support of their students and the school.
Under Gurt’s leadership, the school has grown to a record enrollment of more than 2,000 students; achieved the highest retention rate in nearly 50 years of 93.2 percent; launched the Graduate Programs for Success Division to support young graduates; recognized as a 2016 National Promising Practice for the school’s character and leadership curriculum; and named a “Best Place to Work in PA” for three consecutive years.
Gurt has served in a succession of roles at MHS including Vice President of Student Life and Vice President of Administration. He has always gone the extra mile for the school, serving as an assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach and a relief houseparent for 10 years with his wife, in addition to his regular duties. Gurt also served as a Milton Hershey School Alumni Association Board Officer and was President of the William E. Dearden Alumni Campus Advisory Board.
His diverse professional experiences on campus combined with his status as a “lifer” at MHS (he attended from age five through graduation), have given him a profound, personal understanding of what it means to be a student raised at Milton Hershey School.
Taking full advantage of the variety of leadership and character-building activities available at MHS, Gurt, a 1985 graduate, was a member of the National Honor Society, Glee Club, New Horizons, Student Senate, Student Leadership Society, Student Cabinet, and Student Home Council. He was chosen as Rotary Student of the Month, Senior Class President, and Student Body President. He also served as a Peer Group Counselor and played on the soccer and basketball teams.
Because his dedication to help children realize a brighter future extends beyond the MHS campus, Gurt serves on the Commission for Accreditation for the PA Association of Independent Schools, which is the body responsible for all independent schools in Pennsylvania. In 2009, the Coalition for Residential Education (CORE) named Gurt Administrator of the Year. In 2014, he received an Alumni Achievement Award from The School of Behavioral Sciences and Education at Penn State Harrisburg for his dedication to educating children from families of lower income. He is also committed to the local community, as a member of the Hershey Rotary Club.
Gurt received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Temple University and continued his education at The Pennsylvania State University in Harrisburg, PA, where he earned a Master of Education degree. As an alumnus, Gurt partnered with Temple to establish a College and Career Transition Program to allow advanced MHS seniors to take a full semester of college courses taught by Temple Harrisburg faculty on the MHS campus.
Gurt resides in Hershey with his wife and two sons.