On Thursday, July 7th, the Southern Utah University Presidential Search Committee officially recommended Mindy Benson, Mablene Krueger and Alan Utter as finalists for the position of University President. The announcement comes after an “extensive national search” of over six months.
The candidates will participate in public forums from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13 at the Sterling Church Auditorium. SUU students and the general public are encouraged to attend virtually or in person, take part in the discussion and ask questions.
On Friday, July 15, the Utah Board of Higher Education will interview the finalists in a closed session. The Board may convene a public meeting at SUU in the Great Hall of the Hunter Alumni Center at 3:30 p.m that day to select the president, although the Presidential Search website notes that the selection “may convene at another time, which will be announced at a later date.”
About the finalists:
Mindy Benson is the current Interim President of Southern Utah University where she prioritizes the needs of faculty, staff, and students, mental health resources, and campus culture. As interim president, Benson has also prioritized strengthening community and university partnerships and led one of the most successful legislative sessions in SUU’s recent history. Prior to her appointment as interim president, Benson served as Vice President of Alumni and Community Relations at Southern Utah University for eight years.
Benson graduated from SUU with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology in 1994 and a master’s degree in Professional Communication in 2008. She has been working on campus in various capacities for nearly 30 years and was notably the first woman to ever lead the school in a presidential role. In her cover letter, Benson acknowledges that she is “not a traditional presidential candidate,” but that “the shifting dynamics of higher education call for a different kind of president with a distinct and unique set of skills and capabilities, many of which I have developed throughout my career.”
Mablene Krueger currently serves as the Vice President of Strategic Planning and Partnerships for Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois; she also serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the Schaumburg Campus and is the former president of Robert Morris University Illinois. She is a strategic academic leader with a distinguished career in higher education and is especially passionate about the strengths and challenges of first-generation students, having been the first in her family to earn a college degree.
Krueger holds a bachelor’s degree in Management and a master’s degree in Business Administration, both from the University of Illinois Springfield. She has over 25 years of executive-level leadership experience at Roosevelt University. Krueger’s cover letter emphasizes her commitment to serve a diverse group of students and recognizes that despite her newcomer status in the area, she “would use the distinction of being new to the geographic region to reach out to prospective partners and community members to learn of their needs and diagnose complementary opportunities.”
Alan Utter is currently the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research Office of Academic Affairs and Research for Arkansas State University. With research and professional associations in the sports medicine field, Utter has led National Institute of Health grant-funded research as well as being a patent holder and co-inventor of a body weight and nutrition monitoring system. Utter previously served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas Woman’s University.
Utter holds four degrees from the University of Pittsburgh: a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, master’s degrees in Exercise Physiology and Epidemiology and a doctorate in Exercise Physiology. He began his academic career as a professor, teaching for the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Appalachian State University for over 15 years before moving to administrative positions. His cover letter highlights his personal experience and growth from higher education as a first-generation student and former student athlete, and Utter states that he is “thankful to have personally experienced the transformational benefits that higher education can provide” and carries “a resilient commitment to nourishing growth and opportunity in at-risk students, specifically as your next leader at SUU.”
Story by Aspen English
Photos courtesy of the SUU Presidential Search Website