UD fills provost role

Paul Benson was named provost at the University of Dayton and will take on that role permanently in July, the school announced Thursday.

Benson, appointed to a four-year term, had been serving as the interim provost in collaboration with outgoing president Daniel Curran.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work closely…with president Curran as he completes his presidency, simply because that has given me the experience and the opportunity to learn a great deal about the role with a president who has left a tremendous record of success for the University,” Benson said.

As the University’s chief academic officer, Benson’s responsibilities include preserving, developing and promoting the academic mission and vision of the University, plus coordinating academic and research units and their support systems, according to the school.

“Paul Benson has served the University with distinction in every role he has held. He is well-respected and admired by the campus community — faculty, staff, students, researchers, alumni and friends — and I am confident the University will continue its strong momentum through his leadership,” Curran said.

Benson will continue in that role working with president-designate Eric Spina in setting overall academic priorities for the school and allocating funds to carry those priorities forward.

Benson was named interim provost on June 6, 2014, after former provost Joseph Saliba stepped down. Saliba’s departure came several months after more than 100 UD tenured faculty cast ballots of “no confidence” against him during a symbolic vote called by a group of faculty members. The vote addressed concerns about university governance and discourse, according to university officials.

“This is the sort of job in which, regardless of what your title formally says — whether it’s interim or acting — there’s a lot to do, and we’ve always been guided by a shared sense of strategy in academic affairs at the university,” Benson said. “So we will continue, as I have for the last 18 months, to focus on our core, strategic priorities.”

Said Spina: “I have been impressed by Paul Benson’s character, humility and intelligence since the day I met him. His understanding of the University of Dayton and his modeling of our values and charisma will serve me and the institution extremely well as I prepare to begin my presidency in July.”

Spina said he opted to search internally for the position, saying he sought a provost who was already familiar with the University’s history, people, culture and governance mechanisms.

Benson came to UD in 1985 to teach in the philosophy department and has held progressively higher leadership positions. He served as department chair from 2001-2004 and associate dean for integrated learning and curriculum from 2005-2007 before he was appointed dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

Bill Fischer, UD’s vice president for student development and chair of the search committee, described Benson as the “quintessential provost.”

“It was clear to the committee that Dr. Benson exceeds all the academic and administrative qualifications of the position and, in addition, brings unique personal characteristics and leadership skills to his work,” Fischer said. “He is widely admired for his collaborative style and inclusive approach. He conducts his work with the highest level of ethics and integrity and exemplifies true servant leadership.

“He has a deep appreciation for our Catholic and Marianist educational philosophy and effectively conveys how that philosophy is the foundation for all that we are and all that we aspire to be.”

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