CEDAR CITY — Eastern Kentucky University has tapped Southern Utah University President Michael Benson for its top post, university officials announced Friday.
Benson was one of the three finalists announced for the position of EKU president. He will assume the presidency on Aug. 1, succeeding current president Doug Whitlock, who announced his intention to retire last year.
"Dr. Benson is the right fit for Eastern,” Craig Turner, chairman of the EKU Board of Regents, said in a prepared statement. "Following his intensive and successful interviews and forum discussions with Eastern students, faculty, and staff and with Richmond and Madison County leaders, Dr. Benson was the resounding choice as our next great, visionary leader."
Benson has served as president of SUU since 2007. During his tenure, he oversaw the university's largest fundraising campaign, which to date has raised more than $85 million of a total $100 million goal, according to SUU officials.
"While we are very happy for President Benson and his family in this new adventure, we are going to feel a great loss of leadership here at Southern Utah University," SUU Provost Bradley Cook said. "His energy and 'can do' attitude has served this campus very well in allowing innovation and creativity of new ideas."
An interim president is expected to be announced within the coming weeks and a search committee will be appointed by the Utah Board of Regents to review candidates for the vacant position.
Eastern Kentucky University has a student body of roughly 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students, effectively double the size of SUU.
In a prepared statement, Benson expressed his gratitude to the Utah Board of Regents for the opportunity to serve as president of SUU. He also thanked the SUU Board of Trustees, alumni, donors, faculty and students for their support.
"It has been an honor to work with such dedicated and capable colleagues and I have every confidence SUU will continue forward on its inexorable path to more achievement and even greater distinction," he said.