The Regional University System of Oklahoma Board of Regents approved Andrew Benton as the interim president of the University of Central Oklahoma at their regularly scheduled meeting today, according to a university press release.
Benton is stepping into the role of UCO president in January after the departure of current President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, who announced her intention to resign last month after three and a half years leading the university. The RUSO Board of Regents has initiated the national search process for the next president of UCO, the press release states.
“Andrew Benton’s national reputation for excellence in higher education makes him an exceptional choice for interim president of Central,” said Connie Reilly, RUSO board chairwoman. “As an Edmond resident, he is familiar with the university and the community. He has a keen understanding of UCO’s strengths and the value the university brings to Oklahoma.”
Benton has worked in higher education for 45 years. Most notably, he served as the president of Pepperdine University from 2000 till his retirement in 2019. While at Pepperdine, he served as chairperson of the American Council on Education, the board of the Council on Higher Education and as chairperson of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, according to the university’s release.
Prior to his Pepperdine presidency, Benton served in a variety of leadership roles at the private university in Los Angeles County, California, including vice president for administration, vice president for university affairs and executive vice president and chief operating officer. Prior to joining Pepperdine’s staff, Benton spent 10 years in administration at Oklahoma Christian University.
“While I did not anticipate being offered such a fine leadership opportunity upon returning home to Edmond, I am grateful to be able to give back to the community in which my wife and I now live,” Benton said. “The University of Central Oklahoma has a very bright future, and I am delighted to be able to play a strategic part.”