Eastern hosts 3rd CLAS dean candidate Stuart Benkert Tuesday


Elizabeth Wood

Stuart Benkert, the inaugural head of the department of performing arts at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, answers questions during his interview at Booth Library on Tuesday afternoon. During his interview, he discussed techniques and ways to bring more diversity to Eastern staff.

Emilie Bowman, Reporter

Eastern hosted the third candidate for dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. 

Stuart Benkert is currently the head of the Department of Performing Arts at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Benkert has also served as the assistant provost of student success as well as the interim head of the Department of Economics. 

In 2012, Benkert was selected as an American Council of Education Leadership Fellow. 

Benkert began by talking about how to improve engagement at Eastern. 

“Engagement doesn’t happen with one decision; it’s a series of decisions,” Benkert said. “We can’t sit around here and tell the students what they think is going to be cool, so they have to be a big part of where we go.”

Benkert went on to talk about Eastern’s future and the plans in place to improve the school.

“This ‘All-In’ notion that you’ve got, this taskforce about looking at program redesigns, that’s exactly what needs to happen. So far, I’ve met both your president and your provost, and they have the right mindset for how you move forward,” Benkert said. “I think it’s going to succeed. I want to be a part of that.”

Benkert talked about the importance of faculty members when making decisions and bringing about change on campus. 

“My contribution would be facilitating the discussion as to what needs to be done and identifying the people who are best suited to do that,” Benkert said. “Faculty needs to lead most of what happens on campus and so if you look at my vita, you’ll see a long list of deliverables, but most of those deliverables were only accomplished because I had a lot of good teams.”

Benkert also touched on what he can do for students in terms of diversity and recruitment. 

“Is diversity and inclusion going to be just counting things because just counting things isn’t diversity or inclusion,” Benkert said. “We can’t say there are our benchmarks and you need to meet these benchmarks. We need to be building ladders on how to get them to these expectations.”

When speaking about himself, Benkert candidly described both his strengths and weaknesses. 

“I bring a sense of urgency to everything that we do, and I bring a way for people to accomplish the thing that needs to be done,” Benkert said. “I bring the ability to know what I can’t do and learn how to do that.”

Benkert displayed his knowledge in diverse positions while also showing his resilience in said positions.

“On campus I get thrown at whatever’s perceived to be a problem,” Benkert said. “I’d like to stop fixing everything and see what I can grow.”

Emilie Bowman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]