Michael Benitez is a national social justice educator and activist-scholar with extensive experience in education and campus diversity issues. He is known for his down-to-earth insightful commentary and critical perspectives on social and cultural issues.
Benitez integrates multifaceted pedagogies, scholarly inquiry, and personal experience to provide multi-context and -issue frameworks for empowerment and transformation. He has served higher education in different capacities for the last fifteen years, including academic affairs, student affairs, diversity and inclusion, and teaching.
A highly sought out speaker and workshop leader at conferences and colleges across the nation, Benitez has authored book chapters and articles on topics of identity, cultural centers, ethnic studies, pedagogy, and hip hop culture. He often collaborates with leading scholars and activists in the field of anti-oppression and social justice education addressing issues related to diversity and multiculturalism, identity formations, race and ethnic relations, knowledge representation and production, youth and leadership development, and pedagogy and praxis.
Benitez is co-editor of the anthology, Crash Course: Reflections on the Film “Crash” for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power and Privilege, a collection of essays by some of the country’s most prominent anti-racism writers, scholars and activists. He has also contributed to Being Latino On-Line Magazine (2009), the American Mosaic Online Database (2012), Culture Centers in Higher Education: Perspectives on Identity, Theory, and Practice (2010), and is featured in Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity (2012), a documentary film that examines systemic inequity and racial inequity in U.S. history, culture and identity.
Benitez completed both his Bachelor and Master degrees at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) where he also worked with and helped revive and strengthen the University’s College Assistance Migrant Program.
Throughout his career, he has been recognized with several leadership awards as he has served in increasingly broad and challenging roles. As Director of Diversity Initiatives and Social Justice at Dickinson College, he established the “Diversity Monologues,” an ongoing annual program aimed at highlighting the creative talents of students while addressing diversity and social justice- a program he has helped implement and shape at multiple institutions.
Benitez served as Director of Intercultural Development and the Black Cultural Center at Lafayette College, as adjunct faculty in the Graduate School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University, and as Director of Intercultural Engagement and Leadership at Grinnell College.
Currently, he is Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Puget Sound is a doctoral candidate in educational leadership and policy studies at Iowa State University.