Peterson, who previously served as chair from 2002 to 2006, succeeds professor Michael Stoll, who has served as chair since 2009.
"Michael has been deeply devoted to the department during his terms of service," Gilliam said. "He fought hard for his faculty, staff and students, which I've always respected."
Stoll's tenure has been marked by the following achievements:
Peterson brings a deep background of scholarly and administrative experience, with his previous departmental chairmanship supplemented by service at the head of UCLA Luskin's Faculty Executive Committee and various campus- and UC-wide task forces.
Gilliam praised Peterson as a "trusted advisor."
"I've relied on him over the years for his sound counsel and I look forward to working with him over the coming years," Gilliam said.
Having celebrated its 15th anniversary last year, Public Policy is the youngest of UCLA Luskin's three academic departments, and enrolls more than 120 students in its MPP degree program.