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Education Arts Building Renamed

Alyssa Muench | Staff Writer | 10-5-2012

On Sept. 28, the Education Arts building, which held its name for 52 years, was renamed Bensen Hall in honor of M. James Bensen.

Bensen was the eighth president of Bemidji State University. He was the first and only alumnus to become Bemidji State University’s president. Bensen graduated from BSU in 1959 and served as president from 1994-2001. Director of Communications and Marketing Scott Faust said, “As a resident of the area now, he is very active in promoting the development and vitality of the Bemidji area, not just as a university.”



Bensen’s wife Nancy was also very active during his presidency. She is still an active member of the community today. According to Faust, “Bensen Hall is a tribute to her too, because she is also a Bensen.”

President Richard Hanson made the decision to rename the building. Faust stated, “The building didn’t need a new name. that wasn’t a problem or an issue. It was just an opportunity.”
The process of renaming an academic building can take months. The renaming of the building was an initiative that was carefully deliberated. As President Hanson said at the ceremony, “[naming a building] isn’t as simple as just deciding to put up a sign, there are a lot of people to talk to.”
According to Faust, President Hanson decided to rename the building when, “he had a chance, during his years here, to get to know Dr. Bensen personally and also see the impact of his work.”
The renaming ceremony was touching. Faust said of the ceremony, “It was a beautiful morning and great ceremony. In attendance there were people who had been students with him [Jim Bensen], and there were even people who had been Jim’s teachers.”
During the renaming ceremony, President Hanson said, “We honor Jim Bensen because of who he is as a leader and developer. We honor Jim Bensen because of his vision and his ability to see the world unfold and grow.”
Faust described Bensen as a futurist because of his ability to support distance and online learning before it was common. He also said, “I think he [Bensen] prides himself by being what you call a servant-leader … he is an inspiration.”
Students, faculty and community members can expect the sign to be placed on the building before the end of this semester. In addition to the sign, there will be a plaque placed inside the building so all current and future students can read about M. James Bensen.
At the renaming ceremony, President Hanson said of the building, “This renaming will stand in permanent tribute to Bensen’s gifts of talent, spirit, and wisdom, and all they meant to the university and its students, to the greater Bemidji community, and the people of Minnesota. May we and those who follow us continue to strive toward the bright future that his contributions have illuminated.”