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Haverford College elevates its provost to president

Kimberly Benston, who has been Haverford's provost for three years and on the faculty for more than 30 years, was appointed to a two-year term as president.

An English professor who has been on the faculty at Haverford College for more than 30 years and most recently served as provost was named to a two-year term as president, the college announced Friday.

Kimberly Benston, 62, will replace Daniel H. Weiss, who will depart the college this summer to serve as president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Benston, a native of New York City and Yale grad, starts July 1.

Asked about the two-year appointment, Benston said it made sense for Haverford, a highly selective college on the Main Line, and for him.

"With our strategic plan in the process of being implemented and fundraising campaign set to conclude in 2017, two years seemed like the right term length," said Benston, who also got his master's and doctorate at Yale. "It's long enough to be able to have an agenda and establish relationships in the community in order to sustain momentum for that agenda and, given the circumstances of the transition, to take stock about the path forward."

The two previous presidents of Haverford, which serves about 1,200 students and has an endowment of about $480 million, had unplanned short tenures. Weiss, an art historian, is leaving after only two years – the shortest presidential tenure in the college's history – to fulfill his dream of leading a museum. The previous leader, Stephen G. Emerson wasn't there much longer – four years.

Benston, the college said, has been a key leader in development of Haverford's strategic plan and has overseen the hiring of 16 new faculty in his last three years as provost – 15 of them women and/or people of color.

Haverford Board Chair Howard Lutnick in a statement called Benston, a member of the Haverford faculty since 1984, "a gifted scholar and teacher and an extraordinarily effective academic leader."

His areas of academic interest include modern drama, African-American literature and culture studies and Shakespeare. Before becoming provost, Benston chaired the English department and was director of Africana Studies.

He taught at Yale before coming to Haverford.