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By: Kathryn McNutt//The Journal Record//November 21, 2022//
Interim president to lead UCO beginning in January

By: Kathryn McNutt//The Journal Record//November 21, 2022//
EDMOND – A retired university president who lives in Edmond will lead the University of Central Oklahoma temporarily after current UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar steps down in January.
The Regional University System of Oklahoma board of regents on Friday approved hiring Andrew Benton as the interim president of UCO. He will start in January and be paid $20,000 per month.
“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 chairperson. “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 is taking the job at a time when the university is facing budget shortfalls and enrollment that has declined 22% since 2018.
He worked in higher education for 45 years. Most notably, he served as president of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, from 2000 until his retirement in 2019. During that time, he served as chairperson of the American Council on Education, on the board of the Council on Higher Education and as chairperson of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
Before becoming president, Benton served in various leadership roles at Pepperdine, including vice president for administration, vice president for university affairs and executive vice president and chief operating officer from 1984 through 1999. Early in his career, Benton spent 10 years in administration at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City.

“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 in a provided statement. “The University of Central Oklahoma has a very bright future, and I am delighted to be able to play a strategic part.”
Benton attended the University of Kansas and Oklahoma Christian University and received his juris doctor from the Oklahoma City University School of Law.
Neuhold-Ravikumar announced last month that she will leave UCO effective Jan. 31 after three and a half years as president and 15 years with the university in various roles, including as vice president of finance.
Regents are undertaking a national search for the next UCO president, Reilly said.

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