By: Emily Rachelle Russell | Echo
Dr. Rex Bennett will begin serving at Taylor University as Vice President for University Advancement today.
Bennett will be filling the role formerly held by Dr. Ben Sells, who served at Taylor for nearly 10 years, according to former Executive Director of Development Sherri Harter. In the year and a half since Dr. Sells left Taylor, Harter served as interim vice president.
University Advancement focuses on fundraising, alumni relations and parent relations, according to Bennett. One project University Advancement accomplished in recent years was the funding of the new Euler Science Center. According to the "Opportunity Profile for Vice President for University Advancement," some of the responsibilities of the position include developing long-term strategies for fundraising and developing and maintaining relationships with donors.
As Harter ends her stint as interim vice president, she will transition into associate vice president. Harter said the vice presidential role is difficult to fill due to the great responsibilities of the position, but is certain Bennett is the best fit.
"We just really feel that the Lord (is) bringing Rex Bennett to us," Harter said. "He's the right person, and we're really excited to be able to start working with him."
The son of a Methodist pastor, Bennett was born in Indianapolis and moved between parsonages every two or three years until high school graduation. He attended Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois, where he later worked in advancement for 10 years. The experiences of his daughters - Katelyn ('09) and Hannah ('12) - as students at Taylor gave him personal connections to the school.
Bennett's goal for Taylor, beyond the job description, is to spread word about the school.
"Taylor is better known around the country in places than it is even in Indianapolis, so I'm hopeful that we will be able to dispel the image of Taylor as 'the best kept secret in Indiana,'" Bennett said. "More people need to be aware of the kind of Christian liberal arts education that can be secured at Taylor."
Taylor University used the services of JobfitMatters, a consulting firm in Nashville, Tennessee, to hire Bennett. According to Harter, the university has used this consulting firm before and is pleased with their work. President Lowell Haines made the final hiring decision with the input of the Presidential Cabinet, University Advancement staff and several faculty member representatives.
Bennett knows his new position will not be an easy one.
"Our culture is drifting in a direction which is inimical to many of the principles upon which Christian liberal arts education is founded, so we will be pushing against the culture . . . to develop the necessary resources for a truly Christian liberal arts university to prosper and grow," Bennett said. However, he is prepared to face these challenges. "I feel distinctly called to this role. There's no doubt in my mind that my serving at Taylor, at this point in my career, is a definite part of God's providential plan for my life and the life of my wife and lifelong partner Nancy. God has called us to this role and we have accepted it with enthusiasm."