PITTSBURG, Kan. — Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday announced the appointments of three new members of the Kansas Board of Regents, including Blake Benson, president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and economic development director for the City of Pittsburg.
“I’m honored and humbled, because I believe strongly that our state’s higher education institutions play a vital role in the growth of our state’s economy and it’s communities,” Benson said Tuesday, “so I look forward to the opportunity to be a part of that.”
Benson said he first heard from the governor’s office that he was being considered for the appointment in June.
“There’s an extensive vetting process for appointments like this and obviously it’s taken a little while to just navigate through the process,” Benson said, adding that considering there were three positions to fill on the board at once, it is understandable that it took the governor’s office some time to do its due diligence.
Besides Benson, the other two appointees announced Tuesday were John B. Dicus, the chairman, CEO, and president of Capitol Federal Savings, which is headquartered in Topeka, and Diana Mendoza, director of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and diversity at Dodge City Public Schools, USD 443.
“Blake, John, and Diana bring a depth of knowledge and a diverse set of professional expertise that will serve our students well,” Gov. Kelly said in a press release. “I look forward to collaborating with them and the rest of the Board of Regents to further strengthen our higher education system, prepare our students for careers of the future, and expand our state’s workforce to drive economic growth.”
Benson’s appointment comes as Dr. Dan Shipp prepares to begin his first school year as Pittsburg State University’s new president, with fall classes starting next week.
“Dr. Shipp is doing an incredible job. He’s a great fit for Pittsburg State and really for this region,” Benson said, adding, however, that in addition to supporting Dr. Shipp and PSU, he also looks forward to building relationships with the leaders of the other universities overseen by the Kansas Board of Regents.
“I do look forward to getting to know the other institutions better, because I truly believe that the entire system getting stronger only benefits Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State and all of the state institutions,” Benson said, “so I look forward to continuing the great work of the Board of Regents in ensuring that the entire system is moving forward and that students are being well served.”