Tag Archive for Doug Bennet

President Emeritus Bennet ’59, P’87, ’94, Hon. ’94, Remembered at Memorial Chapel Service

After President Bennet’s memorial service on May 25, 2019, Joe Fins ’82, MD, captured this image, which he thought represented three important areas of commitment in Bennet’s life. (Photo by Joseph J. Fins ’82, MD)

On the Saturday of Reunion & Commencement Weekend, May 25, 2019, the family of President Emeritus Douglas J. Bennet Jr. ’59, P’87, ’94, Hon. ’94 welcomed extended family and a host of friends from the Class of ’59 and other alumni, as well as Wesleyan faculty and staff to gather in Memorial Chapel to remember the life of their husband, father, brother, and grandfather. Bennet died on June 10, 2018, at the age of 79, which was noted in Wesleyan magazine last summer. As this was the Reunion year for his class, the setting provided an opportunity for those who had known him 64 years ago, as a Wesleyan first-year student, to assemble with his family in the chapel, where they had installed a plaque to their “classmate, friend, inspired leader of the College on the Hill“ on the occasion of their 60th Reunion.

Bennet, whose distinguished career prior to the Wesleyan presidency had included service as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs under President Clinton, chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio, and head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, was noted for his commitment to public service. He was also known for his dedication to family and his love for sailing. All three facets were well represented in Saturday’s program.

Speakers at the service included President Michael Roth ’78; Alan Dachs ’70, P’98, Hon. ’07, who had chaired Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees during a segment of Bennet’s presidency; Bennet’s brother John; and his son Michael ’87, Hon. ’12, who offered remembrances on behalf of his siblings, Holly ’94 and James, as well. Dachs noted that Bennet “took joy in working for the greater good. He had ambition for Wesleyan, not himself. We could, and would, follow him with confidence and a sense of purpose.” The Wesleyan Spirits provided their a cappella “Amazing Grace,” and four of Bennet’s grandchildren delivered a poem by Philip Booth: “Chart 1203: Penobscot Bay and Approaches.”

Bennet ’59, P’87, ’94, Hon. ’94 Remembered for Accomplishments as Wesleyan’s President

President Emeritus Douglas J. Bennet ’59, P’87, ’94, Hon.’94 passed away on June 10 at the age of 79.

“He believed that Wesleyan gave him so much, and he gave back unstintingly with deep affection,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a campus email.

Bennet served 12 years as president, retiring in 2007. He oversaw the rejuvenation of the heart of the campus—from Memorial Chapel to Usdan University Center and Fayerweather—as well as the addition of the Freeman Athletic Center and the Film Studies Center.

Bennet set an ambitious strategic direction for Wesleyan with two planning initiatives, the first of which became the basis for the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign—at that time the most successful campaign by far in the University’s history. Under his leadership, Wesleyan saw a 25 percent growth in applications for admission, a doubling of the endowment, and an invigorated relationship with Middletown.

Bennet’s presidency was the culmination of a distinguished career that included service as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs under President Clinton, chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio, and head of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

When Bennet announced his intention to retire as president, he spoke about the “Bennet family love affair with Wesleyan since 1929,” the year that his father enrolled as a first-year student.

“Doug never stopped showing his love for Wesleyan, and he, in turn, was a beloved member of the Wesleyan community. He will live on in our cherished memories and in Wesleyan history,” Roth wrote. “Please join me in expressing our sympathy to (his wife) Midge, (children) Michael ’87, Holly ’94, James, and the entire Bennet family.”

Read more on NPR, in the Hartford Courant, Politico, and The Denver Post.

Residence Hall Named in Honor of Bennet Family

Members of the Donor Associates, trustees, and emeriti trustees and friends celebrated the Bennet family legacy during a dedication of Bennet Hall on May 25. Bennet Hall is named in honor of Wesleyan President Emeritus Douglas Bennet ’59, P’87, P’94, Midge Bowen Bennet, and the Bennet family. The hall is located inside the Fauver Residence complex.

Douglas J. Bennet ’59, P’87, P’94.

Douglas J. Bennet ’59 Named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Former Wesleyan President Douglas J. Bennet '59.

Former Wesleyan President Douglas J. Bennet ’59 has been named a 2011 member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS).

As one of 212 new AAAS members, Bennet joins one of the world’s most prestigious honorary societies and leading centers for independent policy research.

“It is a privilege to honor these men and women for their extraordinary individual accomplishments,” said Leslie Berlowitz, Academy President and William T. Golden Chair. “The knowledge and expertise of our members give the Academy a unique capacity – and responsibility – to provide practical policy solutions to the pressing challenges of the day. We look forward to engaging our new members in this work.”

After earning a B.A. from Wesleyan, Bennet received a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He is also the son of a Wesleyan alumnus and the father of two Wesleyan alumni.

Active in government service, Bennet was assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs when elected to the Wesleyan presidency. Prior to that he was the chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio (NPR) for ten years, during which the number of listeners tripled, the number of member stations doubled, and he raised enough funds so that NPR did not have to depend totally on federal money.

Prior to his years at NPR, he had been the assistant to the economic adviser for the Agency for International Development, special assistant to U.S. Ambassador to India Chester Bowles, assistant to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, assistant to Senators Thomas F. Eagleton and Abraham Ribicoff, assistant secretary for congressional relations in the State Department, and head of the Agency for International Development.

Bennet served as Wesleyan’s president from 1995 until 2007. While president he oversaw the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign, which enabled Wesleyan to add 20 new faculty positions, create 140 new scholarships, and established six endowed professorships. Bennet also presided over more than $200 million in construction and renovation projects on campus and the creation of the Green Street Arts Center in Middletown’s north end.

More information on the award and AAAS can be found here.