Southern Utah University presidential search narrowed to three finalists
Public meetings with finalists July 13; presidential appointment expected July 15
SALT LAKE CITY – After an extensive national search, the Southern Utah University Presidential Search Committee has recommended three finalists to the Utah Board of Higher Education for the position of Southern Utah University President: Mindy Benson; Mablene Krueger; and Alan Utter. Finalists will participate in public forums on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 13, 2022.
“The Southern Utah University Presidential Search Committee is pleased to recommend these three candidates to the Utah Board of Higher Education,” said Nina R. Barnes, search committee co-chair. “Each candidate will have the opportunity to be considered by the Utah Board of Higher Education as the next president of Southern Utah University. Our extensive national search has produced quality professionals, any of whom would be an outstanding choice to lead SUU.”
Rich Christiansen, search committee co-chair and chair of the Southern Utah University Board of Trustees, added, “We recognize it’s been a long year and are grateful to the faculty, staff, students and community for their patience. The Search Committee has done their due diligence, trusting and following the process making certain we had a broad, diverse candidate pool that represented all the various interest groups. Based on their experience and qualifications, we are highly confident in SUU’s future with any of these finalists.”
With the help of a national search firm, WittKieffer, the 21-member search committee spent several months soliciting input through public meetings and reviewing more than 40 applications. The committee invited 12 individuals to participate in in-person interviews and recommended three finalists to the Utah Board of Higher Education. Listed below in alphabetical order:
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 SUU for eight years. Along with her leadership responsibilities, Benson has taught courses on campus for 14 years.
Benson has played a pivotal role in many community outreach efforts, including expanding workforce development, job creation, economic opportunities, increasing community and alumni engagement, and overseeing major campus and community special events. In addition to her work at SUU, Benson is a professional event consultant and planner throughout the nation, with experience producing hundreds of high-level productions, including concerts, events, political conventions, and gubernatorial and U.S. presidential inaugurations.
Benson is a Cedar City native, with ties to southern Utah and SUU that go back generations. She holds a bachelor of science degree in zoology and a master of arts degree in professional communication from SUU.
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 (RMUI). 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.
During her time as RMUI’s president, Krueger spearheaded a plan to refocus the University on its core mission and student outcomes. These efforts led to growing programs and degree levels, strengthening services, more tightly aligning programs to career opportunities through experiential learning, and restructuring the institutional discount model to more closely align with the mission. Krueger worked with the Board of Trustees to build and implement multiple strategic plans, the last of which resulted in integrating with the larger neighboring Roosevelt University in March of 2020.
In addition to her associate degree from Robert Morris, Krueger holds a bachelor of arts in management and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and a certificate in IT systems from the University of Chicago.
Alan Utter is currently the provost and executive vice chancellor for 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.
While at Arkansas State University, Utter led an institutional “Program Viability Task Force'' to evaluate all 160 academic degree programs to prioritize, transform or grow high-impact academic programs to optimize recruitment, retention, resource allocation and demand. Utter also led a process to create and gain faculty approval of a university-wide holistic admission policy to support the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives of the university. Utter also hired four college deans and reinstated both the Graduate School and the Office of Institutional Research. He was responsible for developing and overseeing academic planning for the university and its nine colleges. Utter previously served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas Women’s University. He also served as a professor at Appalachian State University.
Utter holds both a doctorate in exercise physiology and a master’s degree in public health in epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh.
Learn more about each finalist at suu.edu/presidentialsearch/
Next steps
The finalists will be on the Southern Utah University campus on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, to meet with groups representing faculty, staff, students, trustees, and administration. Each finalist will participate in a public meeting on the afternoon of July 13, where attendees from the Southern Utah University community and the general public will have the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.
Public meeting schedule
Southern Utah University – Sterling Church Auditorium in the Sharwan Smith Student Center
1:00 – 1:45 p.m. – Mindy Benson
2:00 – 2:45 p.m. – Mablene Krueger
3:00 – 3:45 p.m. – Alan Utter
Members of the campus community and public are welcome to attend in person or watch these sessions online. More information on the public meetings is available at suu.edu/presidentialsearch.
On Friday, July 15, 2022, the Utah Board of Higher Education will interview the finalists in a closed session. The Board may convene a public meeting at Southern Utah University in the Great Hall of the Hunter Alumni Center at 3:30 p.m. that day to select the president. However, it may convene at another time, which will be announced at a later date.
###
About Southern Utah University
Southern Utah University is a caring campus community where students come to explore their interests and prepare for meaningful careers and life experiences. With more than 140 undergraduate programs and 21 graduate and certificate programs, SUU offers world-class, hands-on learning opportunities where students gain professional experience before entering the job market. Located in the world’s best backyard, SUU is the University of the Parks® thanks to its close proximity to several outdoor recreational areas and its educational partnerships with the National Park Service. SUU’s safe, residential campus allows students to create lifelong friendships along with once-in-a-lifetime outdoor adventures in conjunction with innovative academic endeavors.
Story and Photo Courtesy: SUU Strategic Communication.