Michael Benitez, Ph.D., is a nationally-acclaimed activist-scholar, practitioner, and educator, with extensive experience in diversity issues in higher education. He is known for his down-to-earth, insightful commentary and critical perspectives on social and cultural issues including social justice education, equity and inclusion, diversity and multiculturalism, intercultural development, identity formation, race and ethnic relations, knowledge representation and production, youth and leadership development, student success, and critical pedagogy and praxis.
A highly sought out speaker and workshop leader at colleges and conferences nationwide, he has also authored book chapters and articles on student identity, hip hop culture, cultural centers, cultural and ethnic studies, institutional research and campus climates, and supporting faculty of color.
Dr. Benitez is co-editor of the anthology, Crash Course: Reflections on the Film “Crash” for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power and Privilege, and has 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 Rebel Music: Resistance through Hip Hop and Punk (2015). His most recent work on supporting faculty of color can be found in AACU’s Liberal Education. His work on creating campus community participatory frameworks for difficult conversations and institutional action is forthcoming in New Directions in Institutional Research.
Benitez has been featured in educational documentaries, such as "Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity" (2012), and has appeared on talk shows such as Worlds Apart and Hard Knock Radio.
Part of his success lies in his ability to speak heart-to-heart while bridging theory and scholarly inquiry with everyday life, his use of accessible language that multiple audiences can relate to, while providing multi-context and -issue frameworks for empowerment and transformation.
Dr. Benitez has served higher education in different capacities over the last two decades, including academic and student affairs, equity and inclusion, Title IX, and teaching. Currently, he serves as the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer, as well as Title IX Officer, at the University of Puget Sound, providing leadership over the coordination, implementation, and assessment of operational and strategic goals related to diversity strategic planning and institutional efforts to foster and sustain an equitable and inclusive campus climate.
In previous roles, Dr. Benitez has 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. Informed partly by his poetry and love for spoken word, and as Director of Diversity Initiatives and Social Justice at Dickinson College, Dr. Benitez 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.
Dr. Benitez completed both his B.S. and M.Ed. at the Pennsylvania State University, where he helped revive and strengthen the University’s College Assistance Migrant Program, and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy from Iowa State University School of Education, where he helped revamp the curriculum for Iowa State’s Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE). Throughout his career, he has been recognized with several leadership awards.