CEDAR CITY – The Utah Board of Higher Education selected Mindy Benson as the 17th president of Southern Utah University Friday, following an extensive national search.
Benson succeeds Scott L. Wyatt, who served as president from January 2014-July 2021. Benson has served as interim president of SUU since July 2021.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to be selected by the Utah Board of Higher Education as the next president of Southern Utah University,” Benson said in a news release from SUU. “I’m thrilled to serve in this leadership role and continue working with our extraordinary faculty, staff, students, community and alumni.
“SUU is a remarkable place built on 125 years of transformative educational experiences and community partnership. I’m so grateful to those who came before and am excited to be a part of SUU’s bright future.”
With the help of a national search firm WittKieffer, the 21-member search committee spent several months soliciting input through public meetings and reviewing more than 40 applications. Benson was one of three finalists.
Board Vice Chair Jesselie Anderson lauded Benson’s commitment to higher education.
“Under Mindy Benson’s leadership, Southern Utah University will continue to be known regionally and statewide as it produces successful graduates for Utah’s talent force,” Anderson said. “As part of our process, we heard from campus members and the community, who were deeply invested in finding a committed, compassionate and collaborative leader. I believe President Benson’s wide-ranging institutional knowledge and southern Utah connections make her an exceptional choice to lead the university in the years to come.”
Under her leadership as interim president, Benson has prioritized the needs of faculty, staff and students, mental health resources and campus culture, the news release said. Benson has also prioritized strengthening community and university partnerships and led one of the most successful legislative sessions in SUU’s recent history.
“President Mindy Benson has proven her capacity to lead this university forward with dignity and grace as she has navigated SUU through challenges and changes this past year,” said Rich Christiansen, Utah Board of Higher Education member and search committee co-chair. “She is a unifier, and her deep commitment and interest in this community and campus does not go unnoticed.”
Before assuming the role of interim president last year, Benson served as vice president of Alumni and Community Relations at SUU for eight years. Along with her leadership responsibilities, Benson has taught courses on campus for 14 years.
Benson also has played a pivotal role in many community outreach efforts, including expanding workforce development, job creation, economic opportunities, increasing community and alumni engagement and overseeing major campus and community special events, the news release said.
In addition to her work at SUU, Benson is a professional event consultant and planner throughout the nation, with experience producing hundreds of high-level productions, including concerts, events, political conventions, and gubernatorial and U.S. presidential inaugurations.
Benson is a Cedar City native, with ties to Southern Utah and SUU that go back generations and graduated from SUU with a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a master’s degree in professional communication.
“President Benson has dedicated the best of her talents and time to Southern Utah University for many years,” said Dave R. Woolstenhulme, commissioner of higher education. “Her understanding of the university, the system and the surrounding community will be a great advantage as she permanently takes on this leadership role. I look forward to our upcoming work and collaboration to further her vision for Southern Utah University.”
Click here to learn more about Benson.