Published: March 1, 2014

Bruce D. Benson

Longest-Serving President

CU President Bruce D. Benson (Geol’64, HonDocSci’04) celebrated his sixth year on the job in March, becoming the longest-serving CU president in 50 years. Under his watch, the university has followed a deliberate course, surviving the worst economic downturn in 75 years and positioning itself for the future.

Why CU?

CU is my alma mater, and I have long recognized the value it brings to Colorado and beyond and the contributions it makes. CU made a huge difference in my life. We are in the business of changing lives, and that’s a powerful incentive to do the best job I can. Additionally, we have great people who work well together throughout the organization. Leading that kind of team is energizing. I also have great help and support from my wife, Marcy, who is my partner in all I do and in moving CU forward.

What matters most to the university’s success?

Everything we do starts with reputation. It’s on our minds every day. We promote all the great things that happen from the MAVEN mission to Mars to Nobel Prize winners. Likewise, we have to anticipate problems and address them immediately.

How did you position CU to withstand the economic downturn?

We streamlined bureaucracy, made strategic cuts, instituted better business practices and worked with legislators to secure legislation that allows us to operate more efficiently. Staff does more and our faculty teaches and advises more. We are substantially revamping how we do business in two key revenue areas — fundraising and research funding. We also work hard to get the word out about our value, contributions and challenges, engaging more alumni and friends and creating programs like CU Advocates and CU for Colorado.

Why was the move to the Pac-12 significant?

The Pac-12 has not only won more NCAA titles than any conference, but it’s where we have important research partnerships, where most of our out-of-state alumni live and where we recruit the most nonresident students. You’re known by the company you keep, and I like being in the company of Stanford, UCLA, Cal and the rest.

How long will you be here?

As long as I am capable, I expect to be here. We have important projects under way, and I want to see them to completion. You have a much better chance of having a lasting impact if you make sure new approaches have been in place for some time.

Illustration by Melinda Josie