The State University of New York Board of Trustees today voted unanimously to appoint SUNY Empire State College Provost Meg Benke acting president of the college, effective Sept. 1, 2012.
“Dr. Benke has been a strong leader for Empire State College as its provost over the past year and a half,” said Board Chairman H. Carl McCall. “Her knowledge in online higher education and dedication to Empire State students here in New York and around the globe has lifted the college’s reputation for excellence and I am confident that she will continue to serve the campus community well as acting president.”
“As provost, Dr. Benke has enhanced online education resources and services at Empire State College and helped make the Center for Distance Learning one of the most innovative open and online systems in the country and around the world,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Empire State students, faculty, and staff are certain to benefit from her continued leadership.”
“Leading Empire State College is an honor and I am grateful to Chairman Carl McCall and the board of trustees and to SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher for their support and confidence,” said Benke. “Open learning and online education resources are transforming teaching and learning all along the cradle-to-career education continuum, and Empire State College continues to innovate in these areas.”
The board action follows the recommendation of Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher; Benke will serve until the board appoints a permanent president for the college.
The College Council will appoint a committee, which will conduct search for a permanent president. An interim provost for the college will be named in the near future.
At Empire State College since 1991, Benke has been serving as provost and vice president for academic affairs since Dec. 10, 2010. Previously, she had been vice provost, dean of the Center for Distance Learning, and assistant dean. Her earlier roles in administration have focused on building collegewide programs, recognizing prior learning assessment and on distance learning, building the college’s Center for Distance Learning into one of the foremost and most innovative open and online systems in the United States. She also has taught for the college in its School for Graduate Studies in areas such as adult education, organizational change and human systems and behavior, and participated in both of the teams for developing the college’s MBA and the masters of adult learning.
Prior to her arrival at Empire State College, Benke had served as director of programs and communication at the Hudson-Mohawk Association of Colleges and Universities; assistant professor at Antioch College; and assistant dean of students at Ohio University.
Nationally, Benke has been a leader in assuring quality education options for adult learners and she is president of the Board of Directors of the Sloan-C Consortium, Benke has been recognized by her peers, who conferred on her the Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual in 2007 award for extraordinary qualifications, significant experience, distinguished service and leadership in the field, and named her an inaugural Sloan-C Fellow in 2010.
Her other awards include Outstanding Administrator from Ohio University and Outstanding New Professional by the Ohio College Personnel Association.
Benke has been actively involved in various ways with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and has served as an external evaluator for many institutions and programs in higher learning, currently providing leadership with substantive change in higher education. Her recent invited presentations have been in the area of state authorization in distance education and approaches to promoting quality in adult learning programs. She has published in her field, co-authoring chapters of a book to be published this fall on “Leading Change in Distance Education,” and co-authoring a chapter with Alan Davis and Nan Travers in a digital book to be published by Educause on “SUNY Empire State College: A Game Changer in Open Learning.”
The Pennsylvania native’s formal education includes a bachelor’s in business administration from Youngstown State University, and both master’s and doctoral degrees in student personnel from Ohio University. Benke lives in Saratoga Springs and is active in the community, currently serving on the board of the Northeastern Girl Scouts of New York.
The chancellor forwarded her recommendation to the board as college President Alan R. Davis has accepted the position of president and vice chancellor of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia.
In accordance with the presidential search guidelines, the chancellor has granted a waiver allowing Benke to apply for the permanent position of president, if she so chooses. Additionally, between now and when Davis leaves the college, Benke will serve as officer in charge when he is not available, for example when he is attending International Programs’ graduations.
The SUNY news release on Benke’s appointment is available here.