“Dr. Bennett brings a wealth of experience in both teaching and administration, as well as direct services to students, each of which is important in providing quality experiences for our students that lead to successful outcomes, higher graduation rates and better job placement,” said Dr. Merritt. “His community service background will also serve us well as we work on objectives for more equitable access and success in college as part of our VISION 2025 Plan.”
Bennett is a ten-year veteran of the United States Air Force, where he served as a Security Services Supervisor, and worked in Security at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in Asheville from 2008 to 2010. In 2010 he took a job as Case Manager with the Morganton Department of Public Safety, a position he held until 2013 when he began working at Lees-McCrae College in Banner Elk as an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator in Criminal Justice and Human Services.
He ended his tenure at Lees McCrae as Vice-President for Extended Campus and Online Learning in 2017 when he accepted his most recent position at Department Chair at AB Tech in Asheville. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties at Lees-McCrae and AB Tech, from 2010 to the present Bennett has also taught on an adjunct basis at Everest College Phoenix and, now, at University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky, where he teaches in the Criminal Justice Graduate Studies Department.
Dr. Bennett holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from South College in Savannah, GA (2009) and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Arizona, formerly University of the Rockies, in Denver, Colorado (2011). In 2013, he received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Human Services with a concentration in Criminal Justice from Walden University. He is Board Certified as a Human Services Practitioner.
During his time in academia, Bennett has received several honors and awards. In 2021, he received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), an organization which recognizes celebrates outstanding teaching and leadership in community and junior colleges across the nation. In 2019, he received an Outstanding Faculty Award at the University of the Cumberlands, and in 2017, he received the Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award from Lees-McCrae College.
In 2016, the Hickory Young Professionals recognized Bennett as one of its Top 10 Under 40 for Leadership. In Hickory and elsewhere, he has served in a volunteer capacity for number of Civic Organizations, including Rotary Club of Newton-Conover, Greater Hickory Jaycees, YMCA Youth Development Education and Leadership Program, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and Hickory Discovery Days Home School Co-Op.
In addition, Bennett has served on a number of committees throughout Western North Carolina, including:
- City of Conover Planning Board, Conover, NC
- Catawba County YMCA Board of Directors, Hickory, NC
- Conover Stormwater Advisory Board, Conover, NC
- Conover Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, Conover, NC
- Forsyth Tech Advisory Council, Winston-Salem, NC
- Gaston College Human Services Advisory Council, Gastonia, NC
- Surry Community College Criminal Justice Advisory Council, Dobson, NC
- Buncombe County Reentry Council, Asheville, NC
- Unifour Veteran Services Council, Hickory, NC
Professionally, Bennett is a member or affiliate of several organizations, including:
- North Carolina Community College Association of Distance Learning
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Evaluator
- American Conference of Academic Deans (ACAD)
- Appalachian College Association (ACA)
- Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)
- American Public Hunan Services Association (APHSA)
“Clearly, Dr. Bennett is a leader in both education and life, and we look forward to having him join our administrative team as we build on our student-focused, results-driven approach to higher education. We strive to serve our community with excellence every day, and Dr. Bennett will be a key driver in our continued success.”
McDowell Tech will continue to be Tuition-Free Through 2023. To learn more about McDowell Tech and the Learn and Grow Scholarship Program, visit www.mcdowelltech.edu/learnandgrow/ .