College of Charleston president to step down in 2014

Staff Report
Published Aug. 1, 2013

College of Charleston President P. George Benson announced Thursday that he will step down, effective June 30, 2014, to return to the classroom as a professor in the college’s School of Business.

Benson plans to ask the board of trustees to begin a search for the 22nd president of the College of Charleston during its Friday meeting.

“I am announcing my plans now so the board has ample time to find the next leader of this historic institution,” Benson said in a news release. “I look forward to returning to the classroom, where I spent the first 16 years of my academic career.”

Following his term as president, Benson will be a professor of decision sciences in the college’s School of Business. Benson has held a tenured faculty appointment since 2007. He also plans to continue with the college’s fundraising initiatives. 

One large-scale initiative that Benson said he would continue to push in his last year as president is increased collaboration between the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.

“It is with disappointment that I learn of President George Benson’s plan to step down as president of the College of Charleston next year,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said in a news release. “Dr. Benson has provided extraordinary leadership and great energy to the College of Charleston.”

During his time as president, state budget cuts reduced the school’s state appropriation by nearly half from 2008 to 2012. Benson rebuilt the college’s fundraising operation, expanded its donor base and increased private gifts to record levels in each of the past five years, according to the college.

“During Dr. Benson’s presidency all higher education institutions have experienced hard economic times,” said board Chairman Greg Padgett in a news release. “As chair, I appreciate his diligent guidance and efforts during this difficult period. Thanks to the leadership of President Benson, we were able to preserve and protect the academic core of this great university.”

Under his tenure, the college established more than 30 new or revised degree and certificate programs, including the college’s MBA program in 2010.

Benson oversaw the construction and renovation of several campus facilities, including the TD Arena, Cato Center for the Arts and the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building, among others.

Under Benson, the college created the Office of Legal Affairs, the Office of Institutional Events, the Office of Sustainability, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety and the Office of Economic Development.

“Much of the work we did over the past six-and-a-half years was designed to build a stronger, more self-reliant university and one with a clear student-centered orientation,” Benson said in a news release. 

Benson said he intends to continue serving on the boards of AGCO Corp., Crawford and Co. and Primerica Inc., as well as board chair of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

A native of Lewisburg, Pa., Benson received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Bucknell University, did graduate work in the engineering school at New York University, and received a doctorate in decision sciences from the University of Florida. 

Benson previously served as dean of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business from 1998 to 2007 and as dean of the Rutgers Business School at Rutgers University from 1993 to 1998.

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