The Office of the President

Past Presidents

Milton Bennion

Milton Bennion

1897-1900
Branch Normal School

Courageous and young, Milton Bennion brought a code of personal integrity to the students of the Branch Normal School, encouraging excellence in scholarship, deportment and, above all else, character. Principal Bennion enjoyed teaching and continued work in the classroom even as he served as top BNS administrator. Working to empower students, Bennion established a self-governing student body, heralding independent thought as the key to academic and professional success.

J. Reuben Clark

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

1900-1901
Branch Normal School

Although only an interim appointee, President J. Reuben Clark had a creative vision of the school’s potential and aggressively pursued his objectives while instilling in the community a similar and lasting sense of purpose. With plans for expanded programs and additional facilities, Clark showed the community what the Branch Normal School could become, and the townspeople wholly supported Clark’s leadership.

Nathan T. Porter

Nathan T. Porter

1901-1904
Branch Normal School

Nathan T. Porter was responsible for overseeing the construction of the Science Building – now known as the Braithwaite Building – which doubled classroom space on the BNS campus. Keenly interested in the arts, Porter enhanced student theatrical productions and started the school’s ballroom dancing program. Determined to improve both the school and local community, he also organized the Bank of Southern Utah and the Commercial Club – Cedar City’s first chamber of commerce.

George W. Decker

George W. Decker

1904-1913
Branch Normal School

A born teacher, Decker’s enthusiasm inspired students and parents to the cause of education as one of the first professors at the Branch Normal School; he later became the first southern Utah native to become BNS principal. With humble roots, Decker had a thirst for learning and an appreciation of the opportunities through formalized education. As principal, he often quietly paid the tuition of poor but ambitious students whose education was jeopardized by financial limitation.

Roy F. Horner

Roy F. Homer

1913-1921
Branch Agricultural College

As the school’s fifth leader, Roy F. Homer oversaw the transition from Branch Normal School to Branch Agricultural College. Known for his quiet, efficient leadership and sound judgment, Homer introduced an agricultural department to campus and implemented the “Farmers Roundup”, a three-day intensive agricultural training for the region’s farmers that focused on the scientific planning of crops and sanitary handling of milk – thus ushering in a new era of farming across the region.

Peter Cardon

Peter V. Cardon

1921-1922
Branch Agricultural College

Peter Vincent Cardon brought the curriculum of the Branch Agricultural College into harmony with that of its new parent school, the Utah State Agriculture College. Not one to set his sights too low, Cardon’s aim was to realize all the possibilities existing in the growing school, and as one of the West’s top agricultural experts, Cardon helped expand the BAC from merely a teacher training institution into a school of the agriculture sciences.

J Howard Maughn

J. Howard Maughan

1922-1929
Branch Agricultural College

While J. Howard Maughan did much to increase school enrollment and raise the quality of academic courses, he is best known for establishing campus traditions – most notably, the annual graduation gathering which began as a breakfast, then became a picnic and is now an informal celebration immediately following the commencement ceremony. An avid outdoorsman, Maughan extended student activities far beyond campus, organizing a school-run hiking club and the BAC’s first Greek societies.

Henry Oberhansley

Henry Oberhansley

1929-1945
Branch Agricultural College

An exceptional leader, Henry Oberhansley successfully managed the institution during the Great Depression and into the era of higher education. Among his accomplishments, Oberhansley separated the high school division of the BAC from the college, allowing the college to make greater strides as an institution of higher learning. He was most concerned with the teacher-student relationship, holding faculty fully responsible for the nurturing of each student’s interests and success.

H. Wayne Driggs

H. Wayne Driggs

1948-1951
Branch Agricultural College

Howard Wayne Driggs was an usher of advancement at the Branch Agricultural College. Under his leadership, the education department was expanded to a four year program; Old Main was restored after it caught fire; summer school was opened; and a new field house was constructed, as were plans and appropriations for an auditorium, library and men’s dormitory. Additionally, to counteract the plummeting college enrollment during World War II, Driggs established a campus ROTC program for returning soldiers.

Daryl Chase

Daryl Chase

1951-1953
Branch Agricultural College and College of Southern Utah

Daryl Chase was known as a man of action and was responsible for the college’s progression from Branch Agricultural College to College of Southern Utah. Though he did much to secure increased funding for continuing campus and programmatic growth, Chase’s lasting legacy is an insistence on quality programming, faculty excellence and the highest standards of achievement. He dreamed big and worked diligently to accomplish a heightened vision of possibility.

Royden C. Braithwaite

Royden C. Braithwaite

1955-1978
College of Southern Utah and Southern Utah State College

The Southern Utah State College campus almost doubled in acreage during Royden Braithwaite’s tenure. In fact, of the 28 structures on campus at the time of his death in 1991, very few had not been built or renovated under Braithwaite’s direction. In addition, student enrollment grew from 360 to 2000 young scholars under President Braithwaite’s leadership, and he coined the phrase “Learning Lives Forever” – the directive that still guides Southern Utah University today.

Orville D. Carnahan

Orville D. Carnahan

1978-1981
Southern Utah State College

President Orville Carnahan led the Southern Utah State College in an expansion of academic offerings in preparation for expected enrolment growth and professional opportunity. He is also responsible for an important off-campus University holding, the Ashcroft Observatory, which remains vital to SUU programming today. Fiercely committed to the well being and vitality of higher education, Carnahan later became a member of the House of Representatives, where he proved a staunch defender of education.

Gerald R. Sherratt

Gerald R. Sherratt

1982-1997
Southern Utah State College and Southern Utah University

SUU enjoyed great progress, including achieving university status, during President Sherratt’s administration. As the school’s first graduate to return as president, Sherratt’s passion and dedication are responsible for the institution’s largest period of growth, including an enrollment increase from 1,800 to more than 5,500 students during his tenure. Additionally, 16 new buildings were constructed, the Utah Summer Games was launched and the athletic program achieved NCAA Division I status all under Sherratt’s administration.

Steven D. Bennion

Steven D. Bennion

1997-2006
Southern Utah University

Following in his grandfather Milton Bennion’s footsteps as university president one century later, Steven Bennion ushered in SUU’s second 100 years. An advocate of the teacher education mission first set forth for the institution by his grandfather, Bennion led movements to restore Old Main and build a teacher education facility on campus – now known as the Emma Eccles Jones Education Building – and added two new colleges and several new baccalaureate and graduate programs to accommodate student interest and demand.

Michael Benson

Michael T. Benson

2006-2013
Southern Utah University

In six short years, Michael Benson refined the University’s focus on its core strengths and distinct advantages, sharpening the University's focus on experiential and personalized education as Utah’s premier public liberal arts and sciences institution. During his tenure Benson championed the most ambitious fundraising campaign in University history, raising close to $90 million of the $100 million goal. He also heightened academic standards and increased resources for instruction, student advising, and faculty and student support. He also significantly improved student retention rates, student diversity, and realigned SUU Athletics within the Big Sky Conference.