The chancellor of Missouri State University-West Plains is retiring at the conclusion of the academic year.

Drew A. Bennett announced his intention to retire last Wednesday during the State of the University Address. His retirement will begin at the close of the spring 2018 semester following 11 years of service.

Bennett is the seventh person to lead the West Plains campus and is the second longest serving. The university will begin the search for Bennett’s replacement this fall.

Under Bennett’s leadership, MSU-West Plains has increased enrollment by 10 percent and increased full-time faculty by 26 percent, including three endowed professorships.

The campus has also added 10 new associate degrees while generating more than $8.8 million in donations and more than $11 million in grant funding.

Bennett’s impact on the physical campus in the last 10 years includes 12 building renovation projects and three new facilities – the FEMA/Student Recreation Center, Gohn Hall and Hass-Darr Hall (currently under construction with a targeted spring 2018 completion).

West Plains, located in the 8th Congressional District of Missouri, is the poorest district in Missouri.

Bennett’s tenure is highlighted by his advocacy for students who, in his words, “overcome extraordinary obstacles to achieve remarkable success.”

More than 2,700 students have graduated since Bennett became chancellor.

“Dr. Bennett has transformed the West Plains campus,” said Missouri State University President Clif Smart. “We appreciate his devotion to the university and the community.”

Bennett noted his retirement plans are relatively simple.

“I plan to have a ball. My wife, Elizabeth, and I have an extensive bucket list that includes travel and spending time with family,” he said.

Bennett said he plans to remain in West Plains, the longest place of residence during his adult life.

“We will be sorry to lose Dr. Bennett at the end of this academic year,” said Missouri State University Board of Governors’ Chair Virginia Fry. “He has energized the West Plains campus with new programs and new facilities.”

Matt Morris, vice president for administrative services, will lead the search committee. Input regarding the search can be sent to

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