In Memoriam: Ruth Evelyn Randall Benson, 1929 – 2020

Ruth Benson, former professor and dean at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who served as commissioner of education for the state of Minnesota, died on September 10, after a brief hospital stay. She was 91 years old.

A native of Underwood, Iowa, Dr. Benson was a graduate of the University of Omaha. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Dr. Benson began her career as an elementary school teacher in Iowa. From 1967 to 1978, she was a teacher and administrator in the public school system in Omaha. She moved to Minnesota in 1978 where she became superintendent of Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District. In 1983, she was appointed commissioner of education for Minnesota. She was the first woman to hold the position and only the sixth woman in history to be the top educational administrator in any state.

Dr. Benson served as Minnesota’s commissioner of education for seven years. Later she joined the faculty at the Univerity of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr. Benson was the author of School Choice: Issues and Answers (1991).

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