Reception Honors Benson; Gift Made to Scholarship Fund Established by Incoming President and Wife

photo from reception

Dr. Michael Benson, who will become Eastern Kentucky University’s 12th President on Aug. 1, was the guest of honor Monday, June 17, at a reception hosted by the University’s Board of Regents and Foundation Board and attended by many local and state dignitaries.

Gov. Steve Beshear headed a group of approximately 150 government, educational and business leaders who attended the event, held at the Idle Hour Country Club in Lexington. Other attendees included Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes, Madison County Judge Executive Kent Clark, Commerce Lexington Executive Director Bob Quick, Central Bank President Luther Deaton, Baptist Health Lexington President and CEO Bill Sisson, State Rep. Rita Smart, State Sen. Jared Carpenter, and Baptist Health Richmond President Todd Jones.

Craig Turner, chair of the University’s Board of Regents, presented EKU with a gift of $100,000, made possible by donations from several Regents, Foundation Board members and other friends of the University. The gift matches an earlier gift of $50,000 by Benson and wife Debi to establish an endowed scholarship fund. The Benson gift was matched by donations from several friends of the Bensons.

The scholarship fund will be directed to Model Laboratory School, on the University’s Richmond campus, to use at its discretion for financial aid for students and families. It is the goal to raise $250,000 for the fund.

Beshear praised the University for finding a person of Benson’s qualifications to be its 12th president. The governor also thanked the Board of Regents and University for taking a “hard look” at EKU’s finances and “making strategic decisions” on where best to invest in “Kentucky’s students,” adding that other universities were now following Eastern’s lead as they examine their own finances and budgets.

The governor then welcomed Benson to Kentucky and told the audience that in a meeting immediately before the reception, he promised Eastern’s incoming president his full support and that of the Commonwealth.

Benson thanked retiring EKU President Doug Whitlock for his many years of service to the University, including the last six as its leader, and vowed that he and his administration would work tirelessly to build on the successes of previous administrations by moving Eastern to the “next level of academic excellence.

“No one will work as hard for you as my team and I will,” Benson said.

Benson has served as president of Southern Utah University since 2006.  

Published on June 20, 2013