Mindy Benson - 17th President of Southern Utah University

Welcome President Benson!

The Utah Board of Higher Education selected Mindy Benson as the 17th president of Southern Utah University on July 15,2022, following an extensive national search. President Benson will assume the position effective immediately.

Read the Press Release Watch the Announcement

Announcement Invitation

07/14/2022: The Utah Board of Higher Education and the Southern Utah University Board of Trustees invite you to attend a celebration of the announcement of the 17th president of Southern Utah University.

Friday, July 15 at 3:30 p.m.
Gilbert Great Hall | Hunter Alumni Center

A reception will take place immediately following on the Hunter Alumni Center patio.

While we anticipate an announcement on July 15, the Utah Board of Higher Education reserves the right to reschedule if necessary.

Search Finalists Announced

July 7, 2022: After an extensive national search, the Southern Utah University Presidential Search Committee has recommended three finalists to the Utah Board of Higher Education for the position of Southern Utah University President: Mindy Benson; Mablene Krueger; and Alan Utter. Finalists will participate in public forums on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 13. The finalists are listed here in alphabetical order.

Public input is encouraged. Feedback is accepted until 11:59pm on 07/13/2022.

SUU President Finalist - Mindy Benson

Mindy Benson is the current Interim President of Southern Utah University where she prioritizes the needs of faculty, staff, and students, mental health resources, and campus culture. As interim president, Benson has also prioritized strengthening community and university partnerships and led one of the most successful legislative sessions in SUU’s recent history. Prior to her appointment as interim president, Benson served as Vice President of Alumni and Community Relations at Southern Utah University for eight years.

SUU President Finalist - Mablene Krueger

Mablene Krueger currently serves as the Vice President of Strategic Planning and Partnerships for Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois; she also serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the Schaumburg Campus and is the former president of Robert Morris University Illinois. She is a strategic academic leader with a distinguished career in higher education and is especially passionate about the strengths and challenges of first-generation students, having been the first in her family to earn a college degree.

SUU President Finalist - Alan Utter

Alan Utter is currently the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research Office of Academic Affairs and Research for Arkansas State University. With research and professional associations in the sports medicine field, Utter has led National Institute of Health grant-funded research as well as being a patent holder and co-inventor of a body weight and nutrition monitoring system. Utter previously served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas Women's University.

The finalists will be on the Southern Utah University campus on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, to meet with groups representing faculty, staff, students, trustees and administration. Each finalist will participate in a public meeting on the afternoon of July 13, where attendees from the Southern Utah University community and the general public will have the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.

Public meeting schedule
Members of the campus community and public are welcome to attend in person at the Sterling Church Auditorium in the Sharwan Smith Center or watch these sessions online via Zoom.

  • 1:00 – 1:45 p.m. – Mindy Benson
  • 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. – Mablene Krueger
  • 3:00 – 3:45 p.m. – Alan Utter

Save the Date - Open Forums with Presidential Finalists

June 23, 2022: Over the past few months, the Presidential Search Committee interviewed candidates for the next president of Southern Utah University and selected finalists to visit campus on Wednesday, July 13. Each candidate will meet with groups representing faculty, staff, students, trustees and administration as well as participate in an open forum. The finalists and more details will be announced in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, please save the date for open forums with each finalist that afternoon in the Sterling Church Auditorium and streamed live on this webpage.

Add Open Forums to your Calendar

Applications Received and Reviewed

May - June 2022: The search committee reviewed all the applications received. The breadth and depth of the pool of applicants was outstanding and included an impressive group of candidates from diverse backgrounds and strengths. Candidates were interviewed by the Presidential Search Committee. The Committee will invite their top finalists to campus this summer.

Application for SUU President

March 4, 2022: All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Application materials should include a current curriculum vitae and a letter addressing how the candidate’s experiences match the position requirements.

WittKieffer is assisting Southern Utah University in this search. Application materials should be submitted using WittKieffer’s candidate portal. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by May 2, 2022. 

Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D., Amy Crutchfield and Lauren Bruce-Stets

Equal Opportunity Employer

The Utah Board of Higher Education invites nominations and applications for the position of President of Southern Utah University—one of 16 institutions within the Utah System of Higher Education.

Founded in 1897 and located in Cedar City, Southern Utah University is a dynamic teaching and learning community inspired by its renowned natural surroundings. The University celebrates its rich history and heritage while maintaining close-knit ties with the rural community. With more than 140 undergraduate programs and 21 graduate and certificate programs across seven academic colleges, SUU offers world-class, project-based learning opportunities for its more than 14,000 students, making the University a leader in growth and academic outcomes. SUU maintains varied programs to meet unique regional needs while serving students from Utah’s 29 counties, all 50 states in the nation, and more than 68 foreign countries.

In addition to its thriving academic mission, SUU is home to the Tony Award winning Utah Shakespeare Festival, which is now the official North American partner of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. SUU has also established a growing, successful athletics program with 15 teams competing in Division I NCAA athletics, and annually hosts the Utah Summer Games. Known nationally as the University of the Parks, SUU is located within a five-hour drive from more than 20 national parks and monuments in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada.

The president is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Utah Board of Higher Education and — with oversight from the SUU Board of Trustees — is responsible for the overall administration of the University. The successful candidate must be committed to preserving, fostering, and expanding Southern Utah University’s mission to create an inclusive and innovative institution of higher education where students receive experiential education that leads to personal growth, civic responsibility, and professional excellence. Accordingly, candidates should have demonstrated success in a senior leadership role, preferably at a university. Ideal candidates should also have a proven record of achievement in higher education administration, research, teaching, fundraising, and other integral qualities needed to lead a comprehensive regional university.

Student success and well-being is the University’s foremost priority. This student-centric approach drives SUU’s most fundamental aspirations, including its commitment to ensure that every student who enrolls at SUU earns a degree. Candidates must share SUU’s dedication to student success and demonstrate how they will provide all students with academic rigor and impactful experiences while nurturing strong student, staff, and faculty relationships. Because SUU continues to grow, candidates should have articulable plans for managing sustained expansion while preserving students’ personal educational engagement.

Candidates should embrace SUU’s heritage, history, and local community presence while, at the same time, have a vision for the University’s role in an evolving and increasingly diverse national and international higher education landscape. Candidates must be equitable and inclusive in their methods and perspectives and create a culture where these practices can flourish. Candidates should show a record of success in promoting and sustaining efforts to attract and retain highly qualified and diverse faculty, staff, and students. An earned doctoral or equivalent terminal degree is desired but not required.

For Southern Utah University, this is a remarkable time of momentum and promise. Recent gains have taken SUU from a regional institution known for its commitment to excellence to one gaining national attention for academic quality; innovative undergraduate, graduate, and online programs; unique outdoor experiences; and outstanding theatre and festival opportunities. The next president will grasp the essential nature of this distinct institution – one with a strong focus on the overall student experience – to imagine, develop, and execute the next chapter in SUU’s remarkable history.

Work with the Campus Community to Execute an Ambitious Vision and Strategic Plan for SUU

The past decade for Southern Utah University has been marked by innovation and growth. Since 2016, enrollment has climbed from 8,200 students to over 14,000 students, while maintaining a focus on quality and small class sizes. As more students have taken advantage of the unique, hands-on learning experiences offered by SUU, the institution was officially trademarked as the University of the Parks in 2017. With a history of challenging the status quo, the next president will continue to sustain – and leverage – the momentum that has been built at Southern Utah University.

SUU’s current strategic plan takes the institution through 2022, and the University is in the midst of a new strategic planning process. The president will support this effort and serve as a driving force as the University begins to evaluate and define its future direction and associated infrastructure needs as the campus grows and develops further. An innovative, ambitious, strategic, and forward-thinking leader will be presented with an exceptional opportunity to work with the SUU community to think big and establish a new vision for SUU that will define the University for the next decade and beyond. For an institution that has already undergone remarkable change, the president will ensure that recent improvements truly take root and thrive, facilitating their smooth integration and a campus-wide embrace.

Serve as an Advocate and Champion for the University

The next president should be prepared to serve as the chief spokesperson for Southern Utah University in representing its interests to external partners. As a small community, Cedar City values the University, and its reputation as a destination for recreation, art, and culture. Building on the University’s existing positive reputation and fostering a sense of mutual interest and support with the Cedar City community will be a priority for the new leader. The president must take proactive efforts to become well-networked with the region’s business, civic, community, and church leaders. Equally important will be relationships with the public sector including the legislature, the Governor and state administration, and local officials. In a competitive higher education landscape within the state of Utah, as many institutions vie for resources and support, the president will advocate for SUU, building goodwill, partnership, and ultimately resources for the University.

This is a job for a leader who can balance the internal needs of the institution with effectively representing SUU to external stakeholders and partners. The next president will need to convey to all stakeholders a clear and enthusiastic vision for SUU. To succeed, the president must possess a thorough knowledge of the University’s strengths and potential, and have the ability to communicate these strengths to others. While not exhaustive, current points of pride include the award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival; the Southern Utah Museum of Art; the University of the Parks and Festival City, USA branding; and the Utah Summer Games.

Support Faculty and Staff Morale and Further a Student Centered Approach

Rapid change and growth, combined with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, has stretched many faculty and staff. Compared to many institutions nationally, SUU is in an enviable position of strength, and the president will harness this moment of transition and opportunity to lead with positivity and empathy. Early conversations will engender trust, understanding, and a common vision for how to advance an ambitious plan for SUU while providing the support and resources that will sustain faculty and staff.

SUU is proud to be a caring academic community where students enjoy personal support and mentorship. As enrollment has grown, it has been a priority to maintain small class sizes. The president will bring a student-centered approach, putting the wellbeing of students first and ensuring that as the University continues to grow, the essence of a SUU student experience is maintained.

Prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Demographically and culturally, the Utah of the future will be very different than the Utah of the past. SUU is committed to fostering an inclusive community and celebrating diverse approaches and points of view. Recruiting and retaining a diverse community has been a priority, but this goal is not yet realized, as students, faculty, and staff of color remain underrepresented at the University. The University welcomed a new chief diversity officer in 2021, and the need for continued progress in this area remains an important goal. The new president must lend personal authority and passion to efforts underway to increase diversity at all levels and promoting a welcoming an inclusive environment in which all feel a sense of belonging and support. The president should apply interpersonal qualities that bring people together, and cohesively unify the campus at this particularly stressful time in our society.

Build and Steward the University's Resources

The new president will be expected to work with the University community to identify and develop new, sustainable revenue streams that will be critical to the quality of SUU’s academic, research and co-curricular programs, the depth of its faculty and staff expertise, and the attractiveness of its facilities.

The president will be charged with engaging industry, the local community, alumni, and donors. The new leader will play a key role in stewarding and retaining existing relationships and building new networks that benefit both the University and its partners. Fundraising is a significant part of these efforts, and the president will be visible, respected, and engaged in the alumni community and with current and future donors. As the “fundraiser in chief,” the president will be accountable for the University’s philanthropic activities and results.

Support an environment focused on student success and the overall student experience.

The next president should be committed to the overall student experience and promote a collaborative and supportive environment that provides students with the tools they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond. This requires a deliberate focus on student success strategies, tactics and initiatives that fosters SUU’s longstanding tradition of providing a high quality and engaging overall student experience. The next president should ensure that campuswide resources and infrastructure – from facilities, to class schedules, to advising – are in holistic alignment, and support students and their needs as they matriculate toward graduation.

Download the Presidential Leadership Profile (11MB PDF)

Public Meeting Recordings

January 19, 2022: Public forums were held on January 18, 2022 to gain feedback from the campus and Cedar City communities. 

Watch the forum recordings: Morning Session | Afternoon Session | Evening Session

Presidential Search Public Meetings

January 12, 2022: We would like to invite you to participate in one of three public meetings this upcoming Tuesday, January 18, to learn more about the presidential search process and share your input about SUU’s next president. The meetings will be held at 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. in the Sterling Church Auditorium in the Sharwan Smith Student Center or you can join remotely via Zoom.

As we begin the process of finding our next president, input and feedback from all stakeholders will be crucial to developing a job announcement that will help advertise for the position and recruit candidates. This is a community wide effort, and we welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

We look forward to seeing and hearing from you next Tuesday!

Rich Christiansen and Nina Barnes
SUU Presidential Search Committee Co-Chairs

Presidential Search Committee Announced

December 16, 2022: The Utah Board of Higher Education has named a 21-member committee to conduct a national search for the next president of Southern Utah University. The Board named Mindy Benson as interim president of SUU effective July 2021, following Commissioner Dave R. Woolstenhulme’s announcement that then-SUU President Scott L. Wyatt had accepted the new position of Senior Executive Director of Statewide Online Education within the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.

The search committee will be co-chaired by Utah Board of Higher Education Vice Chair Nina Barnes and SUU Board of Trustees Chair Rich Christiansen. It is comprised of representatives from the Board of Higher Education, trustees and institutional stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students, administration, alumni and community members.

"Southern Utah University's deep community ties have led it to excel in its mission to provide quality higher education opportunities to its students and strengthen local and statewide economies,” said Nina Barnes, Vice Chair of the Utah Board of Higher Education. “The Board selected presidential search committee members from a pool of top-tier campus and community stakeholders and is grateful for their commitment over the next several months in the search for the next leader of SUU."

The Presidential Search Committee will host public forums over the coming weeks to obtain input from the Southern Utah University community and the general public on the presidential search. Details of these forums will be available in January 2022.

Based on feedback obtained in the public forums, the committee will approve a position announcement and call for nominations and applications with the assistance of a national search firm. The committee will then screen applications for the position and conduct interviews with candidates. After deliberating, the committee will recommend three to five semifinalists to the Board of Higher Education. The Board intends to name a new president by the fall of 2022 but will take the necessary time to find the most qualified candidate.