A parade of friends, family and coworkers were greeted with hugs and handshakes at a retirement reception for Phillip Bennett, dean of the Teachers College, Monday afternoon.
“It was more than any one person deserves,” Bennett said. “It was very nice, and I was very pleased with all the compliments.”
The reception at the Sauder Alumni Center drew a crowd of about 60. Among those attending were President Michael Shonrock and Provost Tes Mehring. Both gave short speeches honoring the dean. Then Bennett’s family and friends took the podium sharing stories and praising him.
“Years from now, Phil’s innovations will pay dividends to the college,” said Ken Weaver, associate dean of the Teachers College. “We celebrate Phil’s countless contributions, not just to the college, not just to Emporia State University, not just to the National Teachers Hall of Fame, but to Kansas and the profession.”
During his speech, Shonrock deemed Bennett “genuine” and “passionate.”
“While we recognize his numerous contributions, they are numerous, there is one that we should remember. His contributions have changed the lives of so many students,” Shonrock said.
Bennett has worked for the university for 11 years, first as the associate dean of the Teachers College before being promoted to dean.
“What drew me to ESU is the fact that they are so strong in teacher education,” Bennett said. “I wanted to come back to the Midwest after making the decision to leave South Carolina. I had two or three places that I had interviews or possibilities, but I basically turned them all down but this one. I guess it was a good thing that I got it.”
Bennett said his emphasis and advancements with technology and mobile learning have been his biggest accomplishments in his time at the university.
“They had the technology already, I have just been pushing it towards mobile learning,” Bennett said. “I would rather see them as ‘how can we use the cell phone,’ rather than just telling students to turn them off.”
According to Bennett, the process of finding a new dean has already started with phone interviews, but no candidates have been announced. Marie Miller, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is leading the search for his replacement.
During his retirement, Bennett said he plans to travel, visiting family and friends. He also said he has no plans on leaving the Emporia community and will stay involved with the university and the Teachers Hall of Fame.