Meet Eric Bennett
From his fifth-floor office, Eric Bennett balances the responsibilities of his role as Vice President for Student Development, meeting with students and with the Board of Trustees, helping the school grow.
According to him, Bennett has found a place at The King’s College—but it hasn’t always been that way.
“When I first started, it was like the wild, wild west,” Bennett said. “Every department operated on its own. It wasn’t a cohesive college; no one knew what was happening in another department. There was no academic software whatsoever, so every department had a different list of students’ names and addresses. Transcripts were done on a spreadsheet and no one had academic experience. We’ve come a long way in the last 15 years.”
Bennett, who now serves as Vice President for Student Development, was brought in under Stan Oakes as Director of Student Services in 2003.
“One of the first things we did when I came in was to bring in a comprehensive academic management software system to help us work together,” Bennett said. “I had worked at three other academic institutions, so I had a lot of experience with academia and what a college should look like. My first years at King’s were about trying to bring some industry standards in terms of reporting and systems.”
According to Bennett, those years were not a high point.
“I didn’t like King’s the first three years I was here,” he said. “I worked in the basement of the Empire State Building. I would come in early, and it would be dark, and I would leave late, and it would be dark. I was a little bit of a mole rat.”
Bennett said he felt disconnected during those early years.
"I was a little bit of a mole rat."
“I decided I was going to think of my job at King’s as if I was a consultant,” he said. “I would say, ‘This is the way I think we should do it,’ and I didn’t care whether they did it or not. The idea of reaching out to wealthy people, changing a nation, or being strategic about how the education would influence the culture seemed snobby to me.”
But things changed when he took a different approach.
“I don’t think I felt a very strong kinship with The King’s College,” Bennett said. “Then I fell in love with its students, and that’s changed everything for me.”
And as Bennett’s heart for the student body grew, so did his responsibilities.
“When I first started, I was responsible for myself and a team of student workers,” Bennett said. “Now I have 13 full-time people that I work with. In all the other institutions that I’ve worked with, I’ve never been responsible for an athletic program, or counseling, or housing. I can juggle a lot more than I thought I could.”
In addition to expanding responsibilities, working at The King’s College has meant an adjustment to the city.
“I’m from Toccoa, Georgia,” Bennett said. “25,000 people live in the county. When I first started at The King’s College, we were in the Empire State Building, and there were about 25,000 people in that building alone.”
“I don’t think institutions are eternal. I want to spend my life doing what I think is eternal, so my focus has been on people my entire career.
The most significant development for Bennett has been the development he has undergone as a person.
“Early on in my career, I realized that institutions don’t mean that much to me, personally,” he said. “I don’t think institutions are eternal. I want to spend my life doing what I think is eternal, so my focus has been on people my entire career. How can I love the people around me well? Over thirty years of my career in academics, I have always been very passionate about the individuals who I serve.”