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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2005 / 04 

Richard C. Benson, Penn State department head, to lead College of Engineering

April 29, 2005

University Provost Mark C. McNamee announces the appointment of Richard C. Benson, as Virginia Tech’s next dean of the College of Engineering. Benson currently heads the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State University.

“Dick is an outstanding candidate from a pool of outstanding engineering educators and brings an impressive record of accomplishment from Penn State and the University of Rochester. I am exceedingly pleased to find in Dick the leadership qualities and vision to lead our college. I know that he will work well with all components of the university to advance the college and the university strategic goals,” said McNamee.

Says Benson of his decision, “I am thrilled to be coming to Virginia Tech and can’t wait to get started. I’ve long been aware of the university’s excellent reputation and my recent visits confirmed the foundation of Virginia Tech’s success – the extraordinary strength of the engineering faculty. This college has so many assets including a top-rate curricula, internationally recognized research programs, and tremendous depth and breadth of the faculty, that I am confident we can achieve our goals of greater national prominence and impact.”

Prior to his current appointment, Benson was head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State beginning in 1995. Previously, while at the University of Rochester, he served as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and prior to that was associate dean for graduate studies in the university’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Benson’s research at the University of Rochester was primarily focused on the mechanics of highly flexible structures. He and his advisees modeled magnetic disks and tapes, paper sheets, soft contact lenses, photographic film and other easily deformed structures. He has twice been honored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In 1984 he received ASME Henry Hess Award, which honors a research publication by a young author. He became a fellow of ASME in 1998.

Benson’s teaching interests are in structural mechanics, design, and applied mathematics. In 1981 he was honored as the top teacher in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Rochester.

Prior to beginning his university career, he spent three years with the Xerox Corporation as a technical specialist and project manager specializing in the behavior of paper and paper transport devices.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in aerospace and mechanical science from Princeton University, a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He is slated to begin his duties in Blacksburg August 10.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college’s 5,600 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a “hands-on, minds-on” approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.