La Salle University names Peter J. Dougherty, ’71, as honorary degree recipient for its 2024 Commencement Weekend

April 18, 2024

The honor will be given during the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 11.

Peter J. Dougherty, '71

Peter J. Dougherty, ’71, former director of the Princeton University Press, is now leading the relaunch of the American Philosophical Society Press in Philadelphia.

La Salle University will bestow an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters upon Peter J. Dougherty, ’71, during its on-campus 161st Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 11, 2024.

As director of the Princeton University Press from 2005 until 2017, Dougherty oversaw one of the most academically distinguished and financially robust scholarly publishing programs in the world.

“Peter Dougherty stands out as an individual whose accomplishments, background, and connections to La Salle made him an ideal candidate to receive an honorary degree from his alma mater, ” President Daniel J. Allen, Ph.D., said. “Peter is an exemplar of the Lasallian mission and the transformational impact of a La Salle University degree.”

A first-generation student originally from West Philadelphia, and a graduate of West Philadelphia Catholic High School, Dougherty holds the Brother Aloysius D. Lumley Award of the West Catholic Alumni Association.  He received his bachelor’s degree in history from La Salle College in 1971.

After graduating, Dougherty began his publishing career as a college textbook sales representative for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1972 and was named sociology editor at Harcourt in 1979. He also served as an editor at McGraw-Hill, W.H. Freeman, St. Martin’s Press, Basil Blackwell, and The Free Press before joining the Princeton University Press in 1992 as senior economics editor.

He was later promoted to group publisher for the social sciences division at the Princeton University Press and, in 2005, he was appointed to the prestigious role of PUP director. He stayed in that position until his retirement in 2017. After retiring, he remained as editor at large, finally stepping away from the Press at the end of 2022.

Dougherty’s cadre of published authors consists of some of the most celebrated social scientists in the world, including seven Nobel prize-winning economists, most notably, Robert Shiller, whose 2000 classic, Irrational Exuberance, was a New York Times Bestseller. Since retiring from Princeton in 2022, Dougherty has led the relaunch of the American Philosophical Society Press in Philadelphia, founded by Benjamin Franklin and the oldest continuously operating scholarly publisher in North America.

Peter Dougherty is a former president of the Association of University Presses, a former board member of the Association of American Publishers, and a former lecturer at the University of  Denver Publishing Institute. He is the author of Who’s Afraid of Adam Smith? (Wiley, 2002), and Confessions of a Scholarly Publisher (Princeton, 2017), and has published extensively in the periodical press, including The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In addition to his ongoing work at The APS Press, he currently serves as a trustee of Ithaka, and as Fox Family Pavilion Scholar and Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2023 he was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society.