Dr. Richard C. Benson
Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership
Benson became the fifth president of The University of Texas at Dallas in July 2016.
An engineer with a self-described “appreciation for all things artistic and beautiful,” Benson brings to UT Dallas a vision to not only maintain the University’s excellence in science, math, technology and management programs, but also to boost the arts and humanities.
“We come together at an exciting time in UT Dallas history, now closing in on our 50th anniversary, a time when we will build upon our legacy of not only embracing change, but being defined by change,” he said. “We all expect continued transformation in the next few years because it is a way of life here. There is an assumption of innovation and improvement.”
Benson, whose interests include music, nature hikes and photography, came to UT Dallas from Virginia Tech, where he served as dean of the College of Engineering beginning in 2005. Before that, he was head of the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Pennsylvania State University for 10 years. He previously served as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Rochester, and prior to that was the 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. Before beginning his university career, he worked for Xerox Corp. as a technical specialist and project manager.
In 1998, he was made a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In 2009, he was elected to a three-year term on the ASME Board of Governors (2010-13). He also has held editorial positions with the ASME Press, ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics and Applied Mechanics Reviews.
Benson holds a bachelor of science and engineering degree in aerospace and mechanical science from Princeton University, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
He and his wife, Leslie, have three adult children, Stephanie, James and Kenneth.
Mrs. Eugene McDermott made a gift in August 2000, creating the chair that Benson assumed in July 2016. The chair supports the University president to enhance the presence and reputation of UT Dallas among internal and external constituency groups.
Benson’s teaching interests are in the fields of structural mechanics, design and applied mathematics. At the graduate level, he has taught courses in structural mechanics, structural stability, plates and shells, elasticity, and continuum mechanics. At the undergraduate level, he has taught courses in advanced mechanical design, statics, mechanical systems, kinematics, complex variables and boundary value problems.
“UT Dallas is different by design. The differences are our defining characteristic. We are the school where the ‘rock stars’ do things like make animated films, build robots and play chess. We’re the school where students regularly win at the national level in debate, engineering design and competition for business ideas. And UTD is the proud home to fine student-athletes, more than a few of whom have achieved Academic All-American status. For those reasons and many more, students are choosing UTD in ever-increasing numbers.”