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Dr. Linda L. M. Bennett

Dr. Linda L. M. Bennett became president in July 2009, after serving as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs since 2003, and served in that capacity for 9 years before retiring in 2018. During her time as president, Bennett led initiatives at USI focused on enrollment and retention management, outreach and engagement, faculty development, the retention of intellectual capital, accreditation renewal, and long-range planning.

In her first year as president, she led the effort to establish the University's first strategic plan. This plan included an intentional effort to raise the University’s academic standards, admitting students most likely to succeed at a four-year university. During the Bennett presidency, USI saw record numbers of students pursuing graduate education, as the University expanded both its on-campus and online graduate programs. Bennett coordinated the self-study which led to the approval of USI’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program by the Higher Learning Commission, and oversaw the establishment of a Doctor of Education program in Educational Leadership. She also oversaw the expansion of the Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree program with the addition of Manufacturing Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. The Manufacturing Engineering degree was the first of its kind in the state and one of only around 20 such programs in the country.

During her tenure, the University continued to see monumental physical growth with the addition of numerous building projects, including the Business and Engineering Center, Performance Center, Lenny and Anne Dowhie Ceramics Center, Applied Engineering Center, Griffin Center, renovation of the University Center and the USI-Burdette Trail, as well as the start of construction on the new Arena and Physical Activities Center expansion and renovation, and the Fuquay Welcome Center. 

In 2015, she launched the University’s second strategic plan, which continued through 2020. Also under Bennett’s leadership, enhanced admission processes were implemented and the University’s brand and image received significant updates and increased visibility across the region. During her presidency, the USI Foundation successfully completed Campaign USI: Elevating Excellence, a $50 million capital campaign that exceeded its goal at its conclusion in 2016.

An active civic leader, Bennett remains in Evansville to continue supporting the community and the University that welcomed her and her husband in 2003. Bennett has contributed to a variety of organizations, including serving as chair of the WNIN Public Broadcasting Board of Directors as well as working with the Deaconess Health Systems Board of Directors, American Red Cross, Mayor’s Diversity Lecture Series, Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Welborn Baptist Foundation, Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, the Mayor’s Education Roundtable and the Rotary Club of Evansville. In 2016, she received the Indiana Commission for Women Torchbearer Award and Trailblazer Award and was named a Sagamore of the Wabash in 2018.

Term of Office 2009 - 2018 

Dr. Bennett received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Cincinnati. Her scholarship focuses on public opinion about American politics and political institutions, as well as issues in higher education administration.

Professional Background

Dr. Bennett's experience in higher education included service at three other universities. From 1996-1999, she was chair of the Department of Political Science and professor of political science at Northern Kentucky University. From 1983-1996, she was associated with Wittenberg University. She chaired the Department of Political Science from 1994-1996 and rose to the rank of professor in 1996.

Dr. Bennett came to USI from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, where she served from 1999-2003 as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of political science. At Appalachian State, she established a college-wide Diversity Committee to develop strategies for faculty recruitment and retention. She also led the College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Council in statewide friend-and fund-raising efforts, including a capital campaign that raised more than $5 million.