CofC president to step down, join business school faculty

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- College of Charleston president P. George Benson announced Thursday that he will step down as the college's president and take up a position on the business school's faculty in 2014.

"At Friday's Board of Trustees meeting, I will ask the Board to begin a search for the 22nd president of the College of Charleston," Benson said.{} "I am announcing my plans now so the Board has ample time to find the next leader of this historic institution.{} I look forward to returning to the classroom, where I spent the first 16 years of my academic career."

Benson said he would spend his time teaching and taking on his duties as chair of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, an annual award presented by the country's sitting president.

Benson has been a member of the board since 1997.

Benson became the 21st President of the College of Charleston on Feb. 1, 2007. He had previously served as dean of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business from 1998 to 2007 and as dean of the Rutgers Business School at Rutgers University from 1993 to 1998.

During Benson's presidency, the College worked to increase private fundraising and scholarship support, elevated its national academic profile, and moved from the Southern Conference to the Colonial Athletic Association.

"When I interviewed for this job, I quickly saw the untapped potential of the College of Charleston," Benson said.{} "I believed then and now that no other university in the U.S. can match the College's potential for greatness.{} My goal for the past six-and-a-half years has been to unlock as much of that potential as I could and to enhance the academic and administrative foundations of the College so even more potential could be realized in the years ahead."

The College expanded undergraduate and graduate programs during Benson's tenure, establishing more than 30 new or revised degree and certificate programs.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley praised Benson's leadership.

"It is with disappointment that I learn of President George Benson's plan to step down as President of the College of Charleston next year. Dr. Benson has provided extraordinary leadership and great energy to the College of Charleston, which has seen its growth in quality, educational capacity and national esteem continue upward under his tenure," Riley said.