This archived article was written by: Caitlin Wright
Greg Benson, Ph.D., moved from arts and sciences dean to vice president of academic affairs and provost this year; a switch he made with Michelle Fleck, Ph.D., who returns to the dean of arts and sciences.
Benson grew up in Big Rapids, Mich., with an abounding love for music and teaching. Benson’s academic specialty is instrumental music, and he has been a band director for 30 years. He started his career in the Michigan public schools and found that when he was ready to start college teaching there were not job opportunities in his home state. In 1992, he moved to Arkansas when a college position was offered to him. After several years in Arkansas, Benson responded to an ad that was posted in a national publication and received a call from the College of Eastern Utah to interview for a position. Benson says, “It really boils down to the fact that, for college band directors, there aren’t that many jobs available in a particular state, so you look across the country, and that’s what brought me to Price. To get the opportunity, you have to cast your net pretty far.”
Some of the responsibilities that this new job requires include working with faculty, staff, and administrators in several educational areas, such as the arts & sciences, professional, career & technical education, workforce education, the library, distance learning, and many other things.
He says that, like many jobs at the college, it is time consuming, but very invigorating and challenging. “You learn and are exposed to many new things,” and that has been one of the most interesting parts of the job for him, but also one of the most challenging. Benson has really had to come up to speed on some of the things that he was familiar with before, but that he needs to know a lot more about now.
If money weren’t an option, Benson would still choose to do what he is doing now. He is really doing what he enjoys and loves, which makes his job ideal. Benson comes from a family of teachers and musicians, and it’s “in his blood.” Both of Benson’s parents are retired teachers, and they are the ones who started him in piano lessons in the second grade, which he took for 11 years from the same instructor. These two things, along with happening across some very good music instructors through his younger years, created a very strong foundation for what he does now.
In his free time, when he happens to find some in his busy schedule, Benson enjoys traveling. Over his 10 years in Utah, he likes to travel to many of the scenic places in the state and see the beauty of the outdoors. Also, he enjoys going to the city, such as Salt Lake City, to watch different concerts.
On vacation, Benson and his family make an annual trip each Christmas to Chicago. There is a music conference he attends, but that also allows a chance to spend a little time in the city. Aside from that, he enjoys visiting family in Michigan.
Benson recalls that one of the longest days of his life was when his son was born. It all started in the early morning hours, when his wife went into labor, and ended when his son was finally born in the evening. As fate would have it, the very day after his son was born, Benson had a concert scheduled. After being at the hospital all day and not leaving until late at night, he still had some work-related business to attend to, in preparation for the next day’s concert. Needless to say, this was the longest day of Benson’s memory.
In Benson’s life, one of the biggest changes was leaving high school teaching to begin graduate studies in preparation for a college job. Managing classes, family, and work, while preserving some personal time, brought the strain of trying to balance everything and everyone. This was challenging, but was also an exciting and rewarding period in his life.
As far as what the future holds, Benson says that he has been here 10 years, going on 11, and so far it has been a great run. He sees himself being content just staying on here at the college for the remaining duration of his teaching. No one can say with certainty what will happen because places and times change, but for now he is comfortable with his current position and work.
“Pursuing an education is a lot of hard work, but the results are well worth it. An education is something that can never be taken from you. In my life, education has added lots of value, and many rewards have followed the hard work. It can be a sacrifice, and there are lots of up and downs. But, when you just stick with it, in the end, the rewards will come.”