EKU President Benson Steps Down


*UPDATE: EKU has released an official statement regarding the resignation of President Benson.

Currently in his seventh year of service, Dr. Michael T. Benson will step down as president of Eastern Kentucky University effective Jan. 6, 2020. President Benson will work with EKU Board Chairman Lewis Diaz along with the Board of Regents and the President’s Council to ensure a smooth transition. 

“It has been a singular privilege and honor to serve as EKU’s 13th President,” said Dr. Benson. “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. 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. Additionally, 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.”

Board of Regents Chairman Lewis Diaz added, “I thank President Benson for his years of service to EKU. 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. I wish the best for Dr. Benson and his family as they move on to the next chapter of their lives. I will work with the president to ensure that the transition is seamless as possible while keeping a laser focus on the success of EKU in serving students.”

The University will begin transition planning immediately by establishing a search committee and coordinating a national search for the next president of EKU.

** Original Story **

According to multiple sources, this is the exact email that went out this morning from EKU President Michael Benson at 9:53 a.m.:
“To the Members of the EKU Community,
The working title of my next book is “Every Epoch Requires a Fresh Start.” This is a quote from Daniel Coit Gilman, the first president of Johns Hopkins University, and the subject of my work.
Such is the case at this time for Eastern Kentucky University, my family, and me.
Effective January 6, 2020, I am stepping down as president of EKU. I understand the transition timeline is brief; however, this next year will be a crucial time for the University and higher education in Kentucky. At the request of Chair Diaz, I will remain as an advisor to the Board of Regents through the period of presidential transition. In addition to lending my assistance and full support to the University and the next administration, I intend to use the next year to research and write my Gilman manuscript, which is under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press.
In the near future, my family and I plan to create time to personally say “thank you” to the people with whom we have worked so closely. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve the students, faculty, staff, and community. Thank you for taking us in and making us a part of the EKU Colonel Family. This has become our home. We have tried to reciprocate your kindness by doing our best on behalf of this remarkable institution and its outstanding people.
Next month will mark the start of my 19th year as a university president. Professionally, there is nothing I enjoy more than working in public higher education, and – in keeping with my love of quotations – I have always endeavored to follow the axiom first espoused by Robert Baden-Powell: “Leave it better than how you found it.” EKU has continued to grow academically on campus and online, formed critical public/private partnerships to transform our appearance, addressed many immediate and long-term financial needs, planned for future prosperity, and, most importantly, transformed the lives of thousands of citizens. And all of this has been done despite some very significant and persistent financial headwinds. Together, we have become stronger with a resolve to fulfill our commission to provide educational access to all who enter our gates.
Friday, I will shake hands with hundreds of our newest graduates, and there is no prouder moment as a university president than seeing this milestone of personal achievement for our students. I wish you all the very best and know you will represent your alma mater to the fullest.
My hope going forward is that the state and all supporters of EKU will continue to recognize higher education and particularly Eastern as primary priorities. The transformative power that touches so many lives and contributes so much to our communities must be fostered. Kentucky depends on it.
Having the opportunity to lead this institution represents some of the most exciting and rewarding years of my career. It is also one of the great privileges of my life. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of the inspiring tradition that is EKU. Go Colonels!”