RICHMOND, Ky. (KT) - Eastern Kentucky University President Dr. Michael T. Benson announced Wednesday he will step down from that post on Jan 6, 2020, one he has held for six years.
In making the announcement, Benson called serving as EKU’s 13th president a singular privilege and honor.
“Thanks to the efforts of many people, much has been accomplished as we have collectively built upon the solid foundation we found since arriving in 2013,” he said. “While this was a difficult decision, after conferring with family, colleagues and friends, I have decided the time is right for me to step down as president. Given our love of the university and community, I will fully lend my assistance and support to EKU and the next administration.”
Benson says he will not be idle. “I intend to use the next year to research and write my book; the first time I’ve enjoyed an extended sabbatical in 25 years of working at public institutions; about the first president of Johns Hopkins University, Daniel Coit Gilman, which is under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press.”
During his time at Eastern, Benson was active in higher education outside Richmond. That includes:
--Two years as the convener of all public Kentucky college and university presidents
--Membership on the Council of Presidents of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
--On the Presidents’ Trust for the Association of American Colleges and Universities
--The Task Force on University Partnerships of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. In the past year alone, he has chaired three substantive change committees for universities in Texas, Georgia and Florida for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
In addition, Benson completed a four-year term as a member of the nine-person NCAA Honors Committee, the group charged with awarding the NCAA’s highest recognitions each year, the first president from a Kentucky institution to serve in this capacity. He is also a past chair of the Presidents’ Council for the Ohio Valley Conference and was recently elected as representative for the Ohio Valley Conference on the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum.
EKU Regents Chair Lewis Diaz said the university is better in numerous ways because of his efforts and leadership.
“During the time that Dr. Benson has served as president, EKU experienced periods of peak enrollment, record levels of private support, improved retention and graduation rates and an ambitious campus revitalization initiative that modernized and enhanced EKU’s ability to serve its students,” Diaz said. “I wish the best for Dr. Benson and his family as they move on to the next chapter of their lives.”
EKU will begin transition planning immediately by establishing a search committee and coordinating a national search for the next president.