New leader expressed commitment to aggressive campus renewal plan
RICHMOND, Ky. (Oct. 27, 2014) – Michael Benson was officially inaugurated as the 12th president of Eastern Kentucky University on Oct. 24.
“Too often in higher education, we become accustomed to saying that things cannot be done, or this or that cannot be tried,” Benson said during his inauguration speech. “I say that we cannot afford to remain static, nor do we have the luxury of being anything but bold and audacious.”
Benson added that it is “an honor and a privilege” to work in higher education at a place like EKU.
“Let us leave here today with a renewed commitment to do right by those who built buildings, established programs, planted trees, endowed scholarships, changed lives, and invested sweat equity in this place – knowing full well that their investment would not be enjoyed in their lifetimes but by those who followed,” he said. “Let us be the trailblazers of the 21st century.”
Benson’s inaugural address followed an introduction by Dr. Brad Cook, provost at Southern Utah University, where Benson served as president 2006-13. Cook, who traced his friendship with Benson back to their student days at Oxford, called EKU’s president “the optimist’s optimist.
“He has a healthy reality distortion field,” Cook said. “He makes other people believe in the possibility of achieving difficult tasks. He will find a way to win, because that’s what champions do. Never, ever bet against Michael Benson.”
In his speech, Benson noted the three essential ingredients to the current and future success of EKU are people, places and programs.
He urged the university community to “consider every possible way to say ‘yes’ to opportunities for our students – to do all we can to help them succeed.”
Benson, who came to EKU in August 2013, called the university’s faculty and staff “the most important asset we have at EKU … the lifeblood of this institution. We will continue to pursue both policies and practices which reward your service and value your role within the university.”
A hallmark of the Benson presidency has been his commitment to what he called “an aggressive campus renewal plan,” including the groundbreaking on Oct. 23 for Phase 2 of the New Science Building.
The renewal also includes several projects designed to improve the curb appeal of the Richmond campus.
“We will never waver from our core mission: to produce graduates who are culturally competent, socially aware, and intellectually curious,” Benson said. “We can do no better than to prepare our students to think logically and communicate clearly, regardless of discipline or chosen field of study. And we will continue to emphasize, as our primary goal, access to education for all those from our service region and beyond.”
The ceremony can be seen in its entirety at www.eku.edu.