SPRINGFIELD — The American International College (AIC) board of trustees announced that Hubert Benitez, DDS, PhD has been unanimously selected as the 12th president of the 137-year-old institution. Benitez will succeed President Vince Maniaci, who is retiring after 17 years of service.
“We believe Dr. Benitez is a leader who embraces the mission and strategic vision of American International College,” said Frank Colaccino, board of trustees chair. “Although these are challenging times for higher education, in the institution where Dr. Benitez previously served as president, he successfully expanded enrollment and developed new programs, while he increased the financial health and sustainability of the institution. He did this in a spirit of teamwork, ownership, and accountability, along with dedicated community outreach and engagement. As evidenced by his own career path, Dr. Benitez is an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. He is committed to providing access, opportunity, and pathways for student success.”
Benitez will join American International College on April 11.
“I am extremely humbled to have been selected as AIC’s new president and cannot be more excited to join an institution with such a rich history and strong commitment to access and opportunity,” he said. “I am looking forward to working with the AIC faculty, staff, and students, as we, together, envision how to further impact the communities we serve. I am grateful for this opportunity and consider it the honor and privilege of my lifetime.”
In his most recent position, Benitez served as vice president for Strategic Initiatives and Academic Innovation and as acting chief inclusion officer at Rockhurst University (RU) in Kansas City, Mo., a comprehensive institution of higher learning that offers educational programs to a diverse student population in business, communications, education, engineering, healthcare, humanities, performing and visual arts, science, and mathematics. Among his responsibilities, Benitez had direct oversight of strategic planning, institutional effectiveness, accreditation and assessment, distance education/e-learning, and the Prosperity Center for Financial Opportunity.
Prior to Rockhurst, Benitez served as president and CEO of Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences in Kansas City for almost five years, where he provided visionary and strategic leadership that included growing and diversifying the college’s academic portfolio; promoting a culture of assessment; increasing the visibility of the institution through community presence, engagement, and outreach efforts; engaging in recruitment and enrollment-management practices that increased the college’s population while meeting the needs of a new and diverse demographic of students; and implementing a financial strategy that increased the institution’s fiscal stability and outlook.
Benitez received his first doctoral degree in dentistry from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Latin America. He subsequently completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Connecticut Health Sciences Center, later earning a PhD in higher education administration from Saint Louis University’s College of Education and Public Service. He is a graduate of the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and he completed the Executive Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He has dedicated the last two decades to higher education as an academic and administrator, and 15 years prior as a clinician.
A member of numerous academic organizations, boards, and advisory committees past and present, Benitez currently serves on the board of directors for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City and the board of trustees for Cristo Rey Kansas City, a Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth high school; is a peer reviewer for Middle States Commission on Higher Education; is a member the Hispanic Advisory Committee for Kansas City Public Schools; and is a member of the KC Rising Steering Committee, a body of the KC Rising initiative, composed of business and community volunteers from across the Kansas City metropolitan area who are committed to regional collaboration. His professional associations include the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, the American Assoc. of Hispanics in Higher Education, the American Dental Assoc., and the Golden Key International Honor Society, among others.
In addition to an extensive selection of published works, Benitez has been a guest lecturer in the U.S. and abroad and has been the recipient of federally and privately funded research grants. His work ethic and commitment has been recognized by Univision Kansas City for his ongoing support for Hispanic heritage and by Universidad Piloto of Colombia for forging international and interdisciplinary exchange programs. He has been a recipient of the Hispanic Heritage Award and received special recognition for service to the community through Excellence in Education. His contributions to Suffolk County from the Office of Minority Affairs have been praised, in addition to being selected as one of the Top 25 Advocates for Latino Empowerment in Long Island, N.Y.