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New endowed chair created

May 11, 2009

New endowed chair created

A new endowed chair has been created in the School of Education and Movement Studies – The Jolita Hylland Benson Endowed Chair in Elementary Education honors Jolita Benson.

It has been funded by Dale and Jolita Benson through The Benson Family Foundation of Portland, Ore.

The inaugural appointment to the Jolita Hylland Benson Chair is Leon (Lenny) Reisberg, professor in the Department of Instructional Development and Leadership in the School of Education and Movement Studies.

Dale and Jolita Benson both attended PLU and graduated in 1963. Dale earned a BA in history and then a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Maine. He has had a long and successful career in the financial industry. He is a member of the university’s Board of Regents.

Jolita graduated from the School of Education and has dedicated her life to educating children. She has lived out her passion each day as a teacher, mother and dedicated volunteer.

Throughout her career Jolita exhibited unique gifts for recognizing the needs of children and providing them the support and positive regard that allowed them to flourish. The Jolita Hylland Benson Chair exists to advance these goals for children today and into the future.

Reisberg received a BS in education with minors in history and English from the University of Texas in 1971, his master of education in special education from the University of Arkansas in 1972, and his doctorate in education from the University of Kansas in 1981, with a major in special education and a minor in language development.

He joined the PLU faculty in 1981 and since 1994 has held the rank of professor.

Reisberg has contributed to the literature in special education by focusing on topics that can positively impact the lives of students with academic and behavior difficulties, among them classroom management, technology-based instructional methods, and para-educator training.

He has held many roles in the School of Education and Movement Studies and the university. These include serving as associate dean of his school, vice-chair of the faculty, member of multiple faculty committees–among them Campus Life, Educational Policies and Faculty Affairs; service on a Provost Search Committee, Campus Ministry Council, and many more.

Within the wider Tacoma community Reisberg has served on boards and worked in a range of organizations devoted to improving the lives of children, especially poor children.

In 2004 a gift from the Benson Family Foundation created the first fully funded endowed chair at PLU, The Benson Family Chair in Business and Economic History.