Dr. Michael Benitez is a nationally leading activist-scholar, practitioner and educator with extensive experience in diversity issues in education. He is known for his down-to-earth insightful commentary and critical perspectives on social and cultural issues and his innovative practice and transformative work on equity and inclusion in higher education. 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.
A highly sought-out speaker and workshop leader at conferences and colleges across the nation, Dr. Benitez has 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. Part of his success in carrying out this important challenging work is his ability to speak heart-to-heart while bridging high theory and scholarly inquiry with everyday life, taking on issues by using accessible language that multiple audiences can relate to and work with, while providing multi-context and -issue frameworks for empowerment and transformation. Issues Dr. Benitez addresses include 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.
Dr. Benitez completed both his B.S. and M.Ed. degrees at the Pennsylvania State University, where he worked with and helped revive and strengthen the University’s College Assistance Migrant Program, and he 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, as he has served in increasingly broad and challenging roles. 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.