Benson Serving on AASCU Task Force

Published on June 23, 2017

Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson is serving on the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Task Force on University Partnerships. The task force is looking at what comprises successful partnerships in the broadest possible terms, including collaboration with the private sector, the non-profit community, and governmental entities.

Chaired by California State University Channel Islands President Emeritus Richard Rush, the task force met in Washington, D.C., June 13-15. The meeting was attended by 14 college presidents, chancellors and senior administrators representing 11 state university campuses throughout the country as well as the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Former U.S. House of Representatives Leader Richard Gephardt spoke to the group and stressed the importance of education, training and research in today’s global economy. He emphasized the need for university leaders to communicate in order to build and maintain successful partnerships with the private sector. 

The task force discussed the increased significance of universities developing successful partnerships with communities and the private sector in today’s challenging economic and political environment. Partnerships can leverage the assets of public universities in pursuit of economic growth and community wellbeing, as well as provide high-impact learning and research opportunities for students and faculty.

Members also talked about the need for policy and administrative frameworks that facilitate university partnerships.  The task force will continue its work this summer and will release a handbook on partnerships later this year.

In addition to Benson, members of the task force are John Cavanaugh, president and CEO, Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area; Scott Cole, vice president and general counsel, University of Central Florida; Sue Henderson, president, New Jersey City University, Daniel Holsenbeck, senior vice president for university relations, University of Central Florida; Stephen Jordan, president, Metropolitan State University of Denver; Daniel Little, chancellor, University of Michigan-Dearborn; Doug Mell, executive director of university communications and external relations, University of Wisconsin-Stout; Robert Meyer, chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Stout; Steve Swan, vice president of university relations, Western Washington University; Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president, Texas A&M University, San Antonio; and Susan Zimmerman, provost and vice president of academic affairs, State University of New York, Cobleskill.

Thomas Harnisch, AASCU’s director of state relations and policy analysis, staffs the task force.

AASCU is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.