updated: 2/2/2009 8:14:42 AM

USI Names New President

InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report

The University of Southern Indiana has named Dr. Linda Bennett as its next president. Bennett has served as the university's provost and vice president for academic affairs since 2003. She succeeds Dr. H. Ray Hoops, who retires on June 30. Before joining USI, Bennett served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Appalachian State University.

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Press Release

Evansville, Ind. -- The University of Southern Indiana Board of Trustees today announced the appointment of Dr. Linda L.M. Bennett as the third president of the 44-year old institution with more than 10,000 students.

Bennett joined USI in 2003 as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. She will become USI president on July 1, succeeding Dr. H. Ray Hoops, who will retire June 30 after 15 years as president of the University.

Since coming to USI, Bennett has led initiatives focused on enrollment and retention management, outreach and engagement, faculty development, the retention of intellectual capital, accreditation renewal, and long-range planning. She coordinated the self-study, which led to the approval of USI’s first doctoral program — Doctor of Nursing Practice — by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. In addition to serving as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, she is a professor of political science.

In the presidential search, the USI Board of Trustees adopted a statement of leadership qualities that the new president should possess. These include a demonstrated record of academic leadership, capacity for resource development, ability to lead a complex institution, experience in implementing new programs and achieving goals, commitment to shared governance, recognition of the importance of student life activities to the college experience, and commitment to partnership in regional activities.

John M. Dunn, chair of the Board of Trustees and the Search and Screen Committee, said the trustees were impressed with Bennett’s record of intellectual accomplishment and leadership. She has more than 25 years’ experience in teaching, USI’s primary focus, and throughout her career as an administrator has recognized the importance of an outstanding faculty to a teaching institution with initiatives to enhance faculty recruitment and retention, scholarship, and engagement.

Dunn added that the trustees were enthusiastic about Bennett’s commitment to advance the outreach mission of the University. At USI, she fostered the development of Connect with Southern Indiana, a regional leadership program.

Bennett came to USI from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, where she served from 1999-2003 as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of political science. At Appalachian State, she established a college-wide Diversity Committee to develop strategies for faculty recruitment and retention. She also led the College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Council in statewide friend-and fund-raising efforts, including a capital campaign that raised more than $5 million.

Bennett’s experience in higher education includes service at two other universities. From 1996-99, she was chair of the Department of Political Science and professor of political science at Northern Kentucky University. From 1983-96, she was associated with Wittenberg University. She chaired the Department of Political Science from 1994-96 and rose to the rank of professor in 1996.

Bennett is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. She earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Cincinnati.

Her husband Dr. Stephen E. Bennett is a USI adjunct faculty member in political science and public administration. They reside in Evansville.

Dunn thanked members of the Search and Screen Committee for their participation in the process of recommending candidates to the Board of Trustees. A broad-based committee of University constituents was selected in early 2008 after Hoops announced his intention to retire.

In addition to Dunn, committee members included W. Harold Calloway, Jamie L. Johnson ’09, Jeffrey L. Knight, Amy MacDonell, and Ted C. Ziemer, Jr., Board of Trustees; Dr. Peter Cashel-Cordo (Business), Dr. Charles L. Price (Education and Human Services), Dr. J. Wayne Rinks (Liberal Arts), Dr. Kathy V. Rodgers (Science and Engineering), and Dr. Mayola Rowser ’95 M’99 (Nursing and Health Professions), Faculty Senate; Linda L. Cleek ’82, Extended Services; David O’Grady, Staff Council; Raul Ramirez ’09, Student Government Association; Dr. Mohammed Khayum, senior administrator; Jessica McCarthy ’00, Alumni Association; Bix Branson, USI Foundation; and Bruce H. Baker and Chris Melton ’72, community representatives. Sherrianne M. Standley, vice president emerita for Advancement, was search coordinator.

Located in Evansville, the University of Southern Indiana is a comprehensive public university offering more than 60 undergraduate academic majors, 10 master’s programs, and one doctoral program. The University offers a full range of support services and activities for students.

Source: University of Southern Indiana

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