The Utah Board of Higher Education unanimously named Mindy Benson as interim president of Southern Utah University to take effect on July 26, 2021. The Board of Higher Education will undertake a search for a new president and immediately begin the process of appointing a presidential search committee over the next several weeks.
“I am humbled and honored at the opportunity to serve in this leadership capacity at Southern Utah University,” said Benson. “I have a deep and abiding love for SUU. My father worked here, I earned my degrees here, I teach here, and I value the heritage that has established a solid foundation for our students and their promising futures. This is an important time at SUU as we have been a leader in growth, innovation and, most notably, student success. I look forward to working with SUU’s administrative leaders, faculty and staff to elevate the university’s impact on our students, our community, and our region.”
Benson was appointed as the first vice president for Alumni and Community Relations in 2014 and will be the first female to serve in the presidential role for the institution. Benson has excelled at SUU advancing through a variety of positions, including director of student life and leadership and executive director of Alumni Relations.
“Benson’s success and reliable institutional knowledge of Southern Utah University have prepared her to fill the role of interim president,” said Harris H. Simmons, Chair of the Utah Board of Higher Education. “Benson’s strong leadership throughout her career has ensured successful execution of campus events and other student activities. With her exceptional relationships and connections across campus and in the community, the Board is sure that she will see Southern Utah University through a successful transition period.”
USHE Commissioner Dave R. Woolstenhulme announced on June 14, 2021, that current SUU President Scott L Wyatt accepted the new position of Senior Executive Director of Statewide Online Education within the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, where he will run Utah’s new system-wide approach to online higher ed programming beginning on August 15, 2021. It is anticipated that a new president will be in place by the spring of 2022, but the Board will take the necessary time to find the most qualified candidate.
“I’m grateful for the contribution and leadership of President Scott Wyatt over the last seven years. I have the highest confidence in Mindy Benson to guide, stabilize and continue the progression of Southern Utah University in this interim period,” said Rich Christiansen, chair of the SUU Board of Trustees. “Mindy’s ability to unify, collaborate and build community will allow SUU to thrive in this transition. I also have confidence in the executive leadership team to rally around Mindy at this time. SUU’s Board of Trustees unanimously supports and stands behind Mindy and the administrative leaders.”
As vice president for Alumni and Community Relations, Benson oversees Alumni Relations, Regional Services, Utah Center for Rural Health, Business Resource Center and Small Business Development Center, Southern Utah Museum of Art, and Larry H. Miller Utah Summer Games. She’s responsible for a variety of community outreach projects, alumni engagement, workforce development, economic growth, community leadership trainings and special events. Benson will return to her current role as Vice President of Alumni and Community Relations at the university when a new president is named.
During her time at SUU, her primary focus has been to connect and engage with institutional stakeholders who are often overlooked. Benson has strengthened the University’s ties to its alumni network, along with creating deep and lasting relationships with community members and leaders in rural Utah. She is also actively involved in the community and region by serving on the Cedar City Historic Downtown Economic Development Committee, Bryce Canyon National History Association Board, SUU’s Community Advisory Board and Rocky Vista University Executive Advisory Council.
Along with her University responsibilities, she is a professional event consultant and planner with experience producing hundreds of productions, concerts, events and political inaugurations nationally. She is a Cedar City native whose ties to the University go back generations. Benson earned her bachelor’s degree in zoology and her master’s in communication from SUU.