Jamestown Community College honored Paul A. Benke as its first president emeritus during the JCC Foundation's annual recognition event in October. Benke was presented with a special proclamation from New York state by Sen. Catharine Young during the program.
JCC's board of trustees issued a resolution earlier this fall naming Benke as president emeritus in recognition of his numerous contributions and the leadership he provided during his tenure as JCC's fifth president from 1981 to 1991.
Prior to his work at JCC, Benke served in top management positions in multinational companies.
A special proclamation from the Jamestown Community College board of trustees was shared by chairman Lance Spicer, left, in honor of Paul A. Benke, JCC president emeritus.
"Mr. Benke brought to JCC a belief in the importance of a liberal arts education, and its application in practical ways to everyday life," said Lance Spicer, chairman of JCC's board of trustees. "He identified four themes important to the future of JCC: to strengthen ties with local businesses and industries; to stress academic work; to strengthen the college's liberal arts curriculum; and to prepare people for life as well as work.
"Mr. Benke succeeded in accomplishing these goals, and JCC became a better institution because of his efforts," Spicer added.
Among Benke's accomplishments during his presidency was the incorporation and establishment of the JCC Foundation. He was also instrumental in the evolution of the Cattaraugus County Campus. Benke worked closely with Roger Tory Peterson, the Peterson family, and community leaders to establish the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Benke served as RTPI's founder and president of its board of trustees. Under his leadership, the RTPI facility was built and its first school-based training programs in the environmental sciences were developed.
Other accomplishments during Benke's presidency were the establishment of JCC's Warren Center and the development of the Scandinavian Studies Program. He was also recognized as an advocate for the role of community colleges in local development efforts.