Skip to main content

President Michael T. Benson

President of Eastern Kentucky University, a position he assumed on August 1, 2013. Throughout his twenty-year career in public higher education, Michael has devoted himself to students and their academic success.  He is an accomplished communicator and scholar committed to diversity and expanding global academic opportunities, and is a proven financial manager who is focused on developing and sustaining political and external support for EKU.


President Benson Reflects on 2017

In his office on campus at the Coates administration building, President Michael Benson’s passion for the people, places and programs in his charge as university president is apparent. “Today is one of the best days of the year,” the university president said somewhat breathlessly, after fielding yet another phone call and sending off a quick email. The to-do list was a bit longer than usual that day, as it was Eastern Kentucky University’s fall graduation and the president would soon be shaking the hands of hundreds of newly-graduated Colonels. 

His smile is broad and his excitement is electric, because this day marked what the university is about, after all; sending educated and qualified individuals out in the workforce armed with the knowledge and skills for success. 

Read more at The Richmond Register

Benson Named to AGB Council of Presidents

President speaking on stage

Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson has been named to the Council of Presidents of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Benson, the only representative of a Kentucky college or university, joins 28 others on the council, which is chaired by Paul J. LeBlanc of Southern New Hampshire University.

The purpose of the council is to identify emerging issues of trustee concern, help evaluate the impact of association programs on the functioning of trustees and boards, and serve as an advisory group on matters referred to it by the president and the AGB board.

Benson’s term will extend three years, with a maximum of two successive terms.

President Benson Serves on AASCU Task Force on University Partnerships

Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson is serving on the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Task Force on University Partnerships. The task force is looking at what comprises successful partnerships in the broadest possible terms, including collaboration with the private sector, the non-profit community, and governmental entities.

Chaired by California State University Channel Islands President Emeritus Richard Rush, the task force met in Washington, D.C., June 13-15. The meeting was attended by 14 college presidents, chancellors and senior administrators representing 11 state university campuses throughout the country as well as the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

AASCU Task Force

Former U.S. House of Representatives Leader Richard Gephardt spoke to the group and stressed the importance of education, training and research in today’s global economy. He emphasized the need for university leaders to communicate in order to build and maintain successful partnerships with the private sector.

The task force discussed the increased significance of universities developing successful partnerships with communities and the private sector in today’s challenging economic and political environment. Partnerships can leverage the assets of public universities in pursuit of economic growth and community wellbeing, as well as provide high-impact learning and research opportunities for students and faculty.

Members also talked about the need for policy and administrative frameworks that facilitate university partnerships. The task force will continue its work this summer and will release a handbook on partnerships later this year.

In addition to Benson, members of the task force are John Cavanaugh, president and CEO, Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area; Scott Cole, vice president and general counsel, University of Central Florida; Sue Henderson, president, New Jersey City University, Daniel Holsenbeck, senior vice president for university relations, University of Central Florida; Stephen Jordan, president, Metropolitan State University of Denver; Daniel Little, chancellor, University of Michigan-Dearborn; Doug Mell, executive director of university communications and external relations, University of Wisconsin-Stout; Robert Meyer, chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Stout; Steve Swan, vice president of university relations, Western Washington University; Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president, Texas A&M University, San Antonio; and Susan Zimmerman, provost and vice president of academic affairs, State University of New York, Cobleskill.

Thomas Harnisch, AASCU’s director of state relations and policy analysis, staffs the task force.

AASCU is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

The Meaning and Purpose of the University

The benefits of universities and colleges to our nation cannot be overstated," writes President Benson. "They have survived centuries and brought together diverse people from across the globe with a common purpose." 

Read more at The Huffington Post.

The Public University: Recalling Higher Education’s Democratic Purpose

The modern university has been called, “a series of separate schools and departments held together by a central heating system,” and, in a play on this line, “a series of individual faculty entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance over parking.”1 Whether parking, heating, or, more probable today, WiFi, these tongue-in-cheek caricatures belie a more serious worry that higher education is rudderless, lacking a unifying raison d’etre...

                                                                                      by Michael T. Benson and Hal R. Boyd 


Vision 2020 Community Forum

Eastern Kentucky University updated the community and campus about the many ongoing and planned campus revitalization initiatives in a Town and Gown Vision 2020 Forum Tuesday evening, June 30, 6-8 p.m. at the EKU Center for the Arts. Dr. Benson was joined on the Center’s main stage by members of the President's Council, City, and County officials. The discussion explored ways that the University and City can partner together for mutual benefits.

The President’s remarks included a multimedia presentation that details many of the University’s projects and plans.

Watch the video of the Town and Gown Vision 2020 Forum

See the Community Forum Presentation

Community Forum Presentation Part 1

Community Forum Presentation Part 2

Community Forum Presentation Part 3

A Graduation Unlike Any Other

Spring ushers in the season of college commencements. These societal rituals -- with their sartorial splendor and lofty speeches -- commemorate the sacrifice of students to improve their minds and sharpen their skills before fully entering the rigors of civil society and their chosen fields. They are unequivocal causes for celebration.
Read more at the Huffington Post

University president responds brilliantly to snowed in student’s Twitter challenge

A snowed in student convinced the president of his university to shovel his driveway after challenging him on Twitter. Devan Dannelly, a student at Eastern Kentucky University, said he would attend class if president Michael Benson cleared snow from outside his house. Surprisingly, Dr Benson accepted the student’s challenge and shared a photo of his efforts on Twitter.
Read more at The Telegraph

One of the Greats is Gone

Every so often, we meet people in life who make an indelible impression upon us and teach us lessons we might not otherwise learn. I have been blessed by such a relationship with a man whom I admired from afar -- but really did not know -- until two friends undertook a project which would change both of their lives forever... and many others as well. Billy Casper was one of the greatest golfers of his generation -- he won 51 times on the PGA Tour and secured three Major championships -- but was even more incredible as a human being and humanitarian.
Read more at the Huffington Post

President Benson on WKYT Newsmakers

Interview with Bill Bryant, WKYT
View Video

2015: The Year of No Little Plans

At the end of October, I had the privilege of being inaugurated as the twelfth president of Eastern Kentucky University. It was a memorable day for my family and me, and we were very appreciative for all who helped plan the ceremony and grateful to all who attended.

As a basis for my presentation, I borrowed the immortal words of one of America's truly great figures of the 19th and 20th centuries: Daniel H. Burnham. Renowned architect, shaper of public policy, crafter of city planning, dreamer of big dreams.
Read more at the Huffington Post

Lives of Curiosity and Consequences

Just north up the interstate from where we live in Kentucky is the birthplace of aviation. That two brothers, bicycle makers and mechanics, from Dayton, Ohio, forever transformed the manner in which we now navigate the world is nothing short of miraculous.
Read more at the Huffington Post

President Benson on WKYT Newsmakers

Bill Bryant talks to new EKU President Michael T. Benson.
View Video

President Benson on "Snow Days" etc.

President Michael Benson joins us to discuss how the university handles "snow days," terroristic threats and other matters.
Listen to the Interview at WEKU 88.9

President Michael Benson takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

Members of the golf teams had the honor of dumping ice water on the president. Taking the challenge along with Benson are Janna Vice, provost, Barry Poynter, vice president for finance and administration, Scott Cason, vice president for marketing and communications, Matt Roan, special assistant to the president, and David McFaddin, executive director of government relations and regional stewardship.

Benson challenged Morehead State University President Wayne Andrews, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and University of Louisville President James Ramsey to also take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

View Video

Open /*deleted href=#openmobile*/