One of Utah’s most honored and distinguished educators has been selected as Southern Utah University’s interim president. Former commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) Rich Kendell is replacing outgoing President Michael T. Benson, who has taken a new job at Eastern Kentucky University.
USHE Commissioner Dave Buhler recommended to the State Board of Regents during today’s meetings that former commissioner Rich Kendell take on the temporary leadership position while the board searches for a permanent replacement for Benson.
“Dr. Kendell comes to the position with a solid understanding of SUU's differentiated mission of personalized, value-added experiential education,” responded SUU Provost Brad Cook on word that Kendell would assume temporary leadership of the University.
Over an incredible educational career, Kendell has been recognized as one of the best in both public and higher education. During his ten years as superintendent of the Davis School District he was named the Utah Superintendent of the year and was a four-time National Superintendent of the Year finalist. He was also tabbed as the Utah Education Association’s Administrator of the Year.
Cook said the University will benefit from Kendell’s “incredible depth of experience and insight,” explaining that, with Kendell at the helm for the time being, “The institution can continue to move forward rather than merely defaulting to a holding pattern until a permanent president is selected.”
Kendell’s remarkable career ranges from being an English teacher at Ogden High School to being an associate dean of two different schools at the University of Utah, with many positions in between. Rich was a research analyst for USHE some 30 years ago and then moved over to the U. to help lead the graduate school, the school of education, and later became the acting chair of the Department of Leadership and Policy.
Dr. Kendell was the Deputy to Governor Michael O. Leavitt for public education, higher education and economic development, and later became the executive director of the Utah Partnership. Kendell was awarded the G. Homer Durham Regents Professorship by the Utah State Board of Regents.
He is a fellow with the Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University, a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award at the University of Utah, named the Distinguished Teacher Educator of the Year by the Utah Association of Teacher Educators, and was honored by Weber State University with the Lewis Shurtleff Award for contributions to education. Dr. Kendell also has an endowed chair in his name at Southern Utah University.
Kendell earned his B.S. in English at Weber State and then earned both an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. His entire professional career, spanning some 35 years, has been dedicated to education. He and his wife, Joan, have four children and twelve grandchildren.
Kendell will take over the reins of leadership in Cedar City on July 8, 2013.