SUU's new interim president will become first woman to hold title

The Utah System of Higher Education announced its choice for Southern Utah University's interim president, who will become the first woman to serve in that role at the school.

Mindy Benson, current vice president of alumni and community relations for the university, will serve as president until the search for a new president concludes, which leaders anticipate will happen by spring of 2022.

"I am humbled and honored at the opportunity to serve in this leadership capacity at Southern Utah University," Benson said in a statement.

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"I have a deep and abiding love for SUU. My father worked here, I earned my degrees here, I teach here, and I value the heritage that has established a solid foundation for our students and their promising futures. This is an important time at SUU as we have been a leader in growth, innovation and, most notably, student success. I look forward to working with SUU's administrative leaders, faculty and staff to elevate the university's impact on our students, our community, and our region," she added.

Current SUU President Scott L. Wyatt accepted the position of senior executive director of statewide online education within the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, where he will manage higher ed programming beginning in August.

In her current position, Benson oversees alumni relations as well as a variety of departments, including regional services, the Utah Center for Rural Health, the Business Resource Center and Small Business Development Center, the Southern Utah Museum of Art and Larry H. Miller Utah Summer Games, as well as a variety of community outreach projects.

She will return to the role of vice president of alumni and community relations once a new president is named, officials said.

"Benson's success and reliable institutional knowledge of Southern Utah University have prepared her to fill the role of interim president," said Harris H. Simmons, chairman of the Utah Board of Higher Education, in a statement.

"Benson's strong leadership throughout her career has ensured successful execution of campus events and other student activities. With her exceptional relationships and connections across campus and in the community, the board is sure that she will see Southern Utah University through a successful transition period," Simmons said.

The System of Higher Education plans to immediately begin the process of appointing a presidential search committee.