College of Charleston President George Benson announced Thursday that he will step down and return to the classroom on June 30, 2014.
Benson, who is now 67, says he wants to slow down and finish his career teaching at the college’s business school. He said he plans to ask the school’s board of trustees to search for a replacement during its meeting Friday.
Benson took the College of Charleston’s top post in 2007. He had previously served as dean of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business from 1998 to 2007 and as dean of the Rutgers Business School at Rutgers University from 1993 to 1998.
In an interview with South Carolina Radio Network on Thursday, Benson named what he believed to be three of his top accomplishments. “We set new fundraising records five straight years. Another one would be bringing Dixie Plantation to life… a third would be the national recognition that we’re receiving.”
Benson said he wants the option of a “more normal life” as he and his wife settle down a little. He said he’s worked “24/7 for the past twenty years” and wants an opportunity to return to the classroom.
An announcement from the school notes dozens of on-campus capital projects completed during his tenure, including the TD Arena, Cato Center for the Arts, the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building, and the Mace Brown Natural History Museum. A 19,000-square-foot student fitness center will open in September.
The school also renovated Randolph Hall, Towell Library, Porter’s Lodge, the Cistern Yard, and many other historic buildings during that span.
Benson says that during the last 10 months of his presidency, he wants to oversee the college’s athletic transition from the Southern Athletic Conference to the Colonial Athletic Association. Benson says he would also like to work more closely with the Medical University of South Carolina.
“I think Charleston needs more research and more students in certain specific areas,” he said during Thursday’s interview. “I think if we work closely with (MUSC), we can do a lot of things together that will help support the economy of Charleston.”
Benson is the third state university president to announce his eventual departure this year. MUSC president Dr. Ray Greenberg announced three weeks ago that he will leave for a job in Texas at the end of August. Clemson president James Barker announced in April that he would retire once the school found a replacement.
Sheree Bernardi of Charleston affiliate WTMA contributed to this report