New UT Dallas President named

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Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System Board of Regents named Richard Benson, dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, as the sole finalist for the presidency of the University of Texas at Dallas on Monday. 

The Board of Regents selected Benson unanimously after interviewing three finalists for the presidency Monday. Regents Steven Hicks, Wallace Hall and Brenda Pejovich were not present for the vote. The position has remained open since last summer when former UT-Dallas President David Daniel left to serve as deputy chancellor of the UT System.

Benson oversaw a period of “record growth” as Virginia Tech’s dean of engineering, according to a UT System press release. Applications to the engineering school doubled, the school climbed to its highest ranking ever in the National Science Foundation rankings and research expenditures increased to $214.5 million, according to Benson’s official faculty webpage.

UTD’s enrollment grew from 13,000 to 23,000 students, and the university added 50 new academic programs and completed $1 billion worth of construction under Daniel’s leadership, according to the UTD website. McRaven said in a statement that Benson would continue UTD’s mission to become a top-ranked research university.

“The search advisory committee did an outstanding job in producing truly world-class candidates for the Board of Regents to consider for this very important role,” McRaven said. “We knew that the next president of UT-Dallas would have big shoes to fill, and I believe the regents have selected the perfect candidate to continue UT-Dallas’ meteoric trajectory as it pursues Tier I status. Dr. Benson is an accomplished leader and is perfectly suited to lead UT-Dallas.”

Board Chairman Paul Foster said Benson’s thorough understanding of UTD and his previous experience impressed the regents.

“I am confident that Dr. Benson is the right person to lead UT-Dallas, a renowned academic institution that conducts innovative research, offers new discoveries and provides a world-class education for its students,” Foster said. “Dr. Benson made it clear in his interview that he understands the impressive trajectory of UT-Dallas and we believe he possesses the leadership, intellect and charisma to stimulate even more growth and advancement for this wonderful institution.”

Benson, who is best known for his work in structural mechanics, applied mathematics and design, said he is honored to become UTD’s sole finalist for the presidency.

“The prospect of becoming president at UT-Dallas is an honor and an exciting challenge, both personally and professionally. I look forward to our work together as we become a leading public global force in innovation, research and education,” Benson said in a statement. 

Benson graduated with an engineering degree from Princeton University, received his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia and received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of California-Berkeley.

Texas state law requires finalists to be named at least 21 days before an appointment to the presidency is made.