Benson Named New President of Southern Utah University

Published: January 02, 2007 | Read Time: 2 minutes

The State Board of Regents, Friday, selected Dr. Michael T. Benson as the 15th president of Southern Utah University (SUU). Benson, currently the President of Snow College in Ephraim, will assume his duties at SUU in January 2007. He succeeds President Steven Bennion, who retired earlier this year.

Benson's selection comes after an extensive national search which considered 67 candidates representing 26 states. A search committee comprised of 20 individuals representing the Regents, SUU Trustees, faculty, staff, students, and community members selected five finalists who were announced Wednesday.

"First, I would like to thank Interim President Gregory Stauffer for his leadership and committed service during these past months," said Board of Regents Chair Jed Pitcher. "Southern Utah University plays an important role in the state's higher education system and in the local community. The mission of Southern Utah University is critical in developing and cultivating the state's future workforce and in contributing to the economic development of southern Utah. I am certain Mike has the energy and foresight to lead this university into a very bright future."

In accepting this appointment Benson and his wife, Debi, stated, "We cannot be more excited for this opportunity and can't wait to begin work on January 1. We're grateful to the Regents for their vote of confidence and we pledge to do our very best."

Benson has a strong background in fund raising and experience in leading a rural higher education institution. He was named the 14th President of Snow College in 2001 and, at the age of 36, was the youngest college or university president in the history of the Utah System of Higher Education. Benson recently completed a term as the Chair of the Mountain States Association of Community Colleges, as well as a two-year term as Chair of the Utah State Campus Compact. He has helped Snow College raise significant funds, including donations for the
$19 million Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, which was dedicated in 2003.

Prior to his appointment to Snow College, Benson served as Special Assistant to the President and Secretary to the University of Utah. He is currently an Associate Professor (Adjunct) in the Political Science Department at the University of Utah. Benson has been a consulting historian to the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. He has developed an expertise in Middle Eastern history and has published articles and a book on the topic.

Benson earned a Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil.) in Modern Middle Eastern History from the University of Oxford (St. Antony's College) and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with minors in English and History from Brigham Young University.

Benson is married to the former Debi Woods and is the father of two children, Emma and Samuel. The Bensons are expecting a boy in March.

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