Eastern Kentucky U. Names Benson President

RICHMOND, Ky. — Eastern Kentucky University on Friday named Michael T. Benson as its new president.

The Board of Regents chose Benson at a special meeting on the Richmond campus.

Benson, president of Southern Utah University, succeeds Doug Whitlock, who is retiring.

Craig Turner, chairman of the board, said Benson was the “resounding choice” for the presidency.

“He has devoted himself to students and their academic success, is an accomplished communicator and scholar committed to diversity and expanding global academic opportunities, and is a proven financial manager who will develop and sustain political and external support for EKU,” Turner said in a news release.

Benson, 48, has been successful in raising tens of millions of dollars for Southern Utah, where he has been president since 2006, EKU said.

His tenure will begin at a time when EKU, like other state colleges and universities, is searching for ways to cope with continued cuts in state support.

The regents last month approved a plan for layoffs, voluntary buyouts and faculty early retirements in an effort to reallocate $23 million.

EKU says it has seen a 15.2 percent decline in state support over the last five years.

EKU has about 16,000 students and 2,100 full-time faculty and staff on its main campus in Richmond and regional campuses in Corbin, Danville, Manchester and Somerset.

Benson was chosen after a nationwide search that had been narrowed down to three finalists.

In 2011, Utah Business named Benson one of the “100 Most Influential People in Utah.”

He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post as a featured blogger on higher education issues. He is the author of “Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel.”

Benson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree in non-profit administration from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame and a doctoral degree in Middle Eastern history from the University of Oxford (St. Anthony’s College).