Mendoza School of Business

A Road Less Traveled

Published: February 3, 2010 / Author: Michael Benson

Editor’s note: This commentary by Michael Benson, president of Southern Utah University, contains the following quote about his enrollment in the MNA program at the Mendoza College: “I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in nonprofit administration at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, which requires two partial summers in residence in South Bend. It is an extremely rigorous course and is forcing me to get out of my comfort zone by taking all those courses I’ve avoided my entire life: statistics, accounting, finance, and micro economics. The skill set I am trying to develop is helping me better manage daily the multi-million dollar enterprise Southern Utah University represents.”

My path to a university presidency has been unorthodox. Nonetheless, my course has led to some unique perspectives that I hope might prove useful as those committed to a career in higher education try to navigate their own way through the somewhat byzantine maze that is the administrative track.

My initial steps on this road began when I made my first visit to the Middle East, in January 1989. Not unlike Thomas Friedman’s recollection in his award-winning book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, my introduction to the Old City of Jerusalem was as if I had found a place more familiar and comfortable than my own hometown. When I abandoned my desires to pursue a career in law in favor of Middle Eastern studies, my parents were as perplexed as anyone. They regularly inquired of me, the last of their six children (some of whom had more “practical” graduate degrees and one of whom was a Pulitzer Prize winner), “What kind of job can you ever get with that degree?”

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Topics: Mendoza