Main page content

Richard Benson officially named president of The University of Texas at Dallas

AUSTIN—The University of Texas System Board of Regents has named Richard Benson the next president of The University of Texas at Dallas. Benson, currently the dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, will begin his new role leading UT Dallas on July 15.

Regents approved the appointment at a special called board meeting Monday, February 29. Benson was selected as the sole finalist for the position at a Board of Regents meeting last month.


Dr. Richard Benson

Benson replaces former UT Dallas President David E. Daniel, who left the position last summer to serve as UT System’s deputy chancellor. Hobson Wildenthal is currently serving as interim president.

“Dr. Benson is tailor-made for this important role and we have every confidence that he is the right person to lead UT Dallas, an impressive institution that is gaining ground in so many areas, adding new academic programs, graduating more scientists and engineers and generating more research discoveries,” Board Chairman Paul Foster said. “Dr. Benson has led Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering with honor and distinction for more than a decade and we believe he is the right person at the right time to propel UT Dallas to even greater heights.”

UT Dallas is an innovative institution in the heart of North Texas on the path to achieving Tier One national research university status. Just this month, UT Dallas was named a top research institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Only 115 institutions in the nation have earned the prestigious classification.

Benson has served as dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering since 2005 and has overseen a period of record growth during the last decade. The number of applicants to Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering has nearly doubled during Benson’s tenure. Also, the College of Engineering climbed to its highest ever ranking in the National Science Foundation’s report on engineering schools’ research expenditures. The 2016 survey, reporting on figures for fiscal year 2014, shows the college at eighth place with $228.6 million in research expenditures, ahead of prestigious universities including Stanford, Ohio State, Illinois and the University of California, Berkeley.

Prior to his current appointment, Benson was head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Pennsylvania State University beginning in 1995. He previously served as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Rochester and prior to that was the associate dean for graduate studies in the university's College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Benson's research at the University of Rochester was primarily focused on the mechanics of highly flexible structures. He has twice been honored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In 1984, he received the ASME Henry Hess Award, which honors a research publication by a young author. He also became a fellow of ASME in 1998.

“The UT System Board of Regents has just provided me with the greatest honor of my professional career and I cannot begin to express my excitement to serve as the next president of UT Dallas,” Benson said. “UT Dallas is on a stunning upward trajectory, something that is commented on frequently in academic circles, and I am honored to join the faculty, staff and students as we work toward our goal of making UT Dallas a global force in education, innovation and research.”

Benson holds a bachelor of science and engineering degree in aerospace and mechanical science from Princeton University, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Benson is spending time on the campus of UT Dallas this week and will soon make the move to Texas. Benson, 64, spent his childhood in Dover, New Jersey, and though he loves the scenic beauty of Blacksburg, he said he’s looking forward to once again being in an exciting, urban environment and he’s looking forward to all the Metroplex has to offer.

Benson’s wife Leslie will be making the move with him. The couple has three adult children, Stephanie, James and Kenneth.

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 217,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $16.9 billion (FY 2016) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and more than 70,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

Background Materials

Related file(s)

News Contact Information

Jenny LaCoste-Caputo:  • 512-499-4361(direct) • 512-574-5777 (cell) 
Karen Adler:  • 512-499-4360 (direct) • 210-912-8055 (cell)
Ken Ma:  • 512-499-4778 (direct) • 954-621-7961 (cell)
Melanie Thompson: • 512-499-4487 (direct) • 832-724-1024 (cell)