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Eastern Kentucky University’s 13th president, Dr. Michael Benson was recently awarded the 2019 Vision Award for Excellence in Education by Bluegrass Tomorrow.  

In a Feb. 5 ceremony at Lexington’s Griffin Gate Marriott, Benson, now EKU’s president emeritus, was recognized for his service to the region and successful tenure as president.

The annual Vision Awards pay tribute to the best of the 18-county Bluegrass Region each year, honoring achievements fulfilling Bluegrass Tomorrow's mission of improving quality of life and place.

EKU graduate school alumnus Scott Anderson, Madison County Schools Food Service Director, was also honored at the ceremony with the 2019 Vision Award for Local Food & Agriculture for his successful farm-to-school food sourcing. Anderson received a master’s in education from EKU.

Bluegrass Tomorrow President/CEO Rob Rumpke described the awards as recognition of “leaders and organizations that are visionary, innovative and transformational.”

While accepting his award, Benson reflected on his seven years as EKU’s president. “We began our tenure in 2013 with this axiom from George Washington Carver in mind: ‘Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.’ We tried our very best and tried to make it better – and to make all those alumni who love the place even more proud of their alma mater.”

During his presidency, EKU completed a sweeping campus revitalization to modernize and enhance facilities for student life, academics and athletics. The university also witnessed periods of peak enrollment, record levels of private giving and improved retention and graduation rates.

Benson received a standing ovation from the crowd in recognition of the honor. A passionate advocate for higher education, he closed his remarks with a reminder about the value of continued learning for the greater good. “There is nothing more important in our society than investing in the education of our citizenry, particularly here in our Bluegrass communities,” said Benson.

The award presentation video recognizing Dr. Benson’s achievements is available to view here.

After stepping down as EKU’s president last December, Benson was named President Emeritus. He is currently serving as an advisor to the EKU Board of Regents and completing his latest book, “Every Epoch Requires a Fresh Start: Daniel Coit Gilman and the Birth of the Modern American research University,” under contract with the Johns Hopkins University Press.

Benson was also recently named a visiting professor in the department of History of Science and Technology in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.