University Welcomes Alison Benders, Ph.D. as Vice President for Academic Affairs

VPAA Alison Benders


Ohio Dominican University has appointed Alison Mearns Benders, Ph.D. as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty. Benders will begin her official duties on July 1, 2011.

Dr. Benders currently serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer for Lake Erie College (Painesville, OH), where she also serves on the faculty as a professor of law. A resident of Cleveland Heights, she will be moving to Columbus to assume her new position on July 1.

Dr. Benders holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University; an M.A. and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology/Spirituality from Boston College; and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

During her time with Lake Erie College, Dr. Benders initiated the college’s Academic Directions visioning project for academic and institutional quality improvement and planning. She also hired new faculty; completed a comprehensive revision to the faculty handbook; realigned staff for more effective academic administration; established strategic priorities for Academic Affairs; and oversaw the development of new academic programs for healthcare sciences and adult degree completion.

Prior to joining Lake Erie College, Benders was at Ursuline College (Pepper Pike, OH), where she served as Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. She currently serves on the faculty of the Cleveland Ecumenical Institute for Religious Studies, and has served as an adjunct instructor in religious studies at Case Western Reserve University, John Carroll University, and the Villanova University School of Law. A licensed attorney, Benders practiced law early in her career with Dechert Price & Rhoads, Philadelphia.

“Ohio Dominican is truly fortunate to have Dr. Benders join the university as our chief academic officer,” said President Peter Cimbolic, Ph.D. Her wealth of administrative, professional and academic experience, along with her dedication to the Catholic and Dominican mission of ODU, position her well to serve in this most important role.”

Dr. Benders comes to Ohio Dominican during an exciting time, as the university begins to develop a new strategic plan. The plan will focus on strengthening ODU’s regional presence as a highly selective and truly outstanding comprehensive liberal arts university with a blend of strong traditional and adult undergraduate and graduate programs, and a few selective applied doctoral programs. “We anticipate that Dr. Benders will play a leading role in driving this agenda forward,” President Cimbolic said.

President Cimbolic announced his vision for Ohio Dominican at his Inauguration Ceremony in December 2010, in which he announced plans to grow student enrollment from 3,000 to more than 4,000, while also doubling the current number of full-time faculty from 70 to 140. His plans also called for gaining a higher percentage of undergraduates who will pursue graduate and professional degrees, while also becoming competitive for national fellowships such as the Woodrow Wilson, Danforth, Fulbright, and Rhodes Scholarship. “I want ODU to be the first choice school for the very best students in this region of the country,” he said.

“I am pleased to join Ohio Dominican, especially as the University celebrates its Centennial,” said Dr. Benders. “ODU’s proud tradition of transforming lives and President Cimbolic’s vision for the future are especially compelling for me. Ohio Dominican embodies its Dominican charism of contemplating and sharing truth through creative educational programs that reach out to all sectors of the community. It is a Catholic university that calls community members to transcend their differences through their shared commitment, and I am truly looking forward to working in that environment.”

As the chief academic officer of the university, Dr. Benders will provide vision, leadership and professional development strategies for the academic division. She will be responsible for the academic curriculum of the institution, providing leadership to the faculty as dean of the faculty, and managing the process through which teaching and learning is conducted and administered. Dr. Benders will oversee all graduate and undergraduate instruction, the Library, the Registrar’s Office, the Center for Instructional Technology, the Center for Academic Advising, the Academic Resource Center, the P-16 Partnerships Office, Adult Education Programs, and the academic side of ODU’s Learning Enhanced Adult Degree (LEAD) program. ODU currently has 72 full-time faculty and 112 part-time faculty.