Pepperdine University President and CEO Andrew K. Benton Elected Chair of NAICU Board of Directors

July 05, 2017

Pepperdine University (CA) President and CEO Andrew K. Benton, J.D., has been elected to a 19-month term as chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).  Jo Allen, president of Meredith College (NC), has been elected vice chair.

Benton, who was NAICU board vice chair, replaces Christopher B. Nelson, president of St. John’s College (MD), who retired in June.  The NAICU Board voted on the transition during their regular spring meeting.  Benton will complete the seven months remaining in Nelson’s one-year term before starting his own one-year term.
NAICU Board members set the association’s agenda on federal higher education policy; actively encourage support of association priorities and initiatives; and oversee the organization’s financial administration.
“NAICU is most fortunate that Pepperdine University President Andrew Benton has been elected as the next chair of our board of directors,” said NAICU President David L. Warren, Ph.D.  “Andy brings 17 years of presidential leadership experience to the NAICU Board chairmanship, including a term as chair of our Accountability Committee.  His knowledge of private higher education is unparalleled, and will be of great assistance to the Association.  As new opportunities and challenges arise over the next 18 months, the Association will be well positioned for success with our new leadership team.”
“This seems to be an especially important time for all institutions of higher learning to work closely together and, perhaps, especially those in the independent sector,” said Benton.  “Our work is noble, aimed at the very future of this nation.  I am grateful for this opportunity to serve and I simply cannot imagine finer colleagues with whom to do so.”
Andrew K. Benton 
Benton has served Pepperdine University for more than 30 years. His Pepperdine career started in 1984 when he joined the Malibu, California-based university to oversee land-use opportunities. Benton went on to work as the chief of staff for his friend and the university’s sixth president David Davenport. In 1991, he was appointed executive vice president and chief operational officer of the university.
In 2000, the Pepperdine Board of Regents named Benton the university’s seventh President and Chief Executive Officer. The University is rated in the top tier of "best national universities" as reported by U.S. News & World Report, was named one of the trendiest colleges in the country by the Huffington Post, and was cited by Princeton Review as the nation's "most beautiful campus."
Benton teaches classes at the university on a regular basis and is highly engaged with student life on campus. His rock-and-roll band, The Mesa Peak Band, has played at numerous events on the campus, including an annual concert held at the end of the school’s New Student Orientation week in Benton’s backyard, which functions as an informal first introduction for new students to Pepperdine’s easygoing president.
A native of Lawrence, KS, Benton earned a J.D. from Oklahoma City University’s School of Law and a B.S. in American Studies from Oklahoma Christian University. For 10 years he worked with Oklahoma Christian prior to his move to Pepperdine University.  In addition to his work at Pepperdine, he is a member of numerous associations, including the American Council on Education, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, the Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities and the American Bar Association. He has written numerous essays concerning the state of higher education in the United States that have appeared in the Huffington Post and elsewhere.
Jo Allen 
Jo Allen, Ph.D., took office as the eighth president of Meredith College (NC) on July 1, 2011. She is the first Meredith College alumna to assume leadership of the 126-year-old institution, one of the largest private colleges for women in the United States.
Since taking office, Allen has guided Meredith to an enviable position of strength and vitality following the comprehensive strategic plan, Meredith Forever. In the five years since the rolling plan was put in place, Meredith has exceeded enrollment and retention goals; raised more than $66 million in the silent phase of its largest fundraising campaign ever; and established StrongPoints®, the College’s signature coaching and personal advising program.
Prior to her return to Meredith, Allen served as senior vice president, provost and professor of English at Widener University (PA).  She also served as tenured associate professor of English at East Carolina University and tenured associate professor at North Carolina State University. In addition to her duties as a faculty member, Allen served in a number of leadership positions at the universities where she taught, including special assistant to the dean and vice chancellor, as assistant dean and interim vice provost.  A North Carolina native, Allen earned a Master’s degree from East Carolina University and a doctorate from Oklahoma State University in English literature, with an emphasis in Technical and Professional Communication. Her B.A. from Meredith was also in English.
Allen has made numerous contributions to the advancement of higher education. She has been the featured speaker and facilitator at numerous professional development programs and served as president of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, the largest international scholarly organization for technical and professional communication scholars. She currently serves on the board of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges, and previously served as a commissioner for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and a site reviewer for the American Bar Association.
Allen has published and presented in more than 200 regional, national, and international scholarly venues, focusing on communication, assessment, and leadership in higher education. Books written or edited by Allen include Writing in the Workplace and Assessment in Technical and Professional Communication, which won both the Council of Program’s in Technical and Scientific Communication’s 2010 award for best contribution to the work of program assessment  and a national award from the College Composition and Communications Conference.  Allen also has been a reviewer for scholarly journals and has co-edited several special journal issues of Technical Communication Quarterly.
In addition to NAICU, she currently serves on the Executive Board of the North Carolina Campus Compact and is the Treasurer of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU).
NAICU serves as the unified national voice of private nonprofit higher education. With more than 1,000 member institutions and associations nationwide, NAICU reflects the diversity of independent higher education in the United States. Since 1976, the association has represented private nonprofit colleges and universities on policy issues with the federal government, such as those affecting student aid, taxation, and government regulation. Our member institutions include major research universities, church-related colleges, historically black colleges, art and design colleges, traditional liberal arts and science institutions, women’s colleges, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions.

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