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Ninth Paris Junior College President Begins his Tenure

June 18, 2024 – Dr. Stephen Michael Benson, the ninth president to serve Paris Junior College as it enters its 100th year, began his tenure on Monday, June 3. His first two weeks have helped him craft a short-term listening plan.

“It is an incredible honor to be serving at the ninth president of Paris Junior College,” said Benson. “PJC plays an important role in the life of the communities that it serves, not only to educate the student of these communities, but as a partner for economic development and as a community resource.”

While this is his first serving in the role of president, Benson has a twenty-seven year career as an administrator at a variety of higher education institutions. He came to McLennan Community College in April 2017 after serving three years as the Vice President for Business Services at Florida Gateway College in Lake City, Florida.

First serving as Vice President for Finance and Administration at New River Community and Technical College in Beckley, West Virginia, Benson then became Director of Administrative Services at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

He received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1997, a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University in 2010, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Keiser University in 2016.

Benson has been actively engaged in professional organizations, including Community College Business Officers groups in West Virginia as the Vice President, in Florida, and now as the Secretary for the Texas Association of Community College Business Officers. His community involvement included serving on boards for the United Way, Creative Waco, Youth Chorus of Central Texas, McGregor Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, and church committees.

At McLennan Community College, Benson was responsible for the preparation and control of an annual budget exceeding $61 million and overseeing Financial Services, Purchasing/Auxiliary Services, Human Resources, Technology, Campus Safety/Police, Emergency & Risk Management, Physical Plant, Admissions and Recruitment, Records and Registration, Enrollment Systems, Financial Aid, and Marketing and Communication, involving over 200 employees.

Directly responsible for strategic enrollment management at McLennan, Benson led many initiatives that stabilized, then grew enrollment. Under his financial leadership, MCC added over $14 million to its unrestricted fund balance and enhanced employee salaries and benefits by $6 million. A champion of collaboration, Benson routinely used committees and task forces representing all employees to best implement change.

While at Florida Gateway College, Benson provided leadership for planning multiple construction projects, developing a facilities masterplan, establishing a public safety office, and opening a campus-operated food service. Similarly, in his Vice President role at New River Community and Technical College, he was instrumental in providing leadership for the separation of the financial operations from Bluefield State College and establishing a business office, financial aid office, and purchasing department. His leadership allowed New River to drastically expand its facilities footprint on five campuses.

In addition to his professional roles in higher education, Benson has used his musical training to serve as the music director for First United Methodist Church of Buckhannon and as the director of the Buckhannon Choral Society. Most recently he served as the Music Director of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco. Music plays a major role in the life of the Benson family.

Benson is married to Christy and they have one daughter, Kiersten. Christy is the Financial Manager for MPL Corporation, a computer software company that is based in Buckhannon, West Virginia. Kiersten graduated this spring from Midway High School in Waco, Texas and will attend the University of Texas in Austin this fall to study chemistry.

With his first two weeks complete at the College, Dr. Benson is looking forward to increasing his outreach.

“It is important for me to learn about our communities and hear from everyone,” Benson said. “I plan to spend a considerable amount of time listening to our Board of Regents, Foundation Board, employees of PJC, alumni, College friends, and the communities at large. These conversations will help me develop a clear and strategic vision and plans for the future of the College. That future is bright, and I look forward to many years at Paris Junior College.”

Benson-Seal Paris Junior College President
Benson-Seal Paris Junior College President

Author: Matt Janson

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