New EKU president starts work Thursday

Michael T. Benson
Michael T. Benson

Michael T. Benson will start as president of Eastern Kentucky University on Thursday, replacing President Doug Whitlock, who retired after 45 years at the Richmond school, six of which were spent in the top job.

Benson moves from Southern Utah University, where he was president for the past six years. Before that, Benson was president of Snow College, a rural two-year state school in Utah.

Benson's hiring has been attributed in part to his fundraising profile at Southern Utah, where he helped raise $90 million in private support during the past six years. Benson is a grandson of Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th president of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Benson comes at a challenging time for the regional school, as EKU prepares to implement a $23 million budget cut.

Benson will make $400,000 plus $120,000 in possible bonuses, a big jump from Whitlock's salary of $250,000.

This summer, Benson announced that he had already personally endowed a $50,000 scholarship and raised another $50,000 from friends and supporters.