MALIBU—Pepperdine University president and CEO Andrew K. Benton will serve a 19-month term as chair of the board of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the university announced on Wednesday, July 5.

The NAICU board elected Benton to the position during their regular spring meeting. Benton previously served as the board’s vice chair and will replace St. John College president Christopher B. Nelson, who retired on June 21. He will complete the remaining seven months of Nelson’s one-year term before beginning his own one-year term. Jo Allen, president of Meredith College, was elected vice chair of the board.

“NAICU is most fortunate that Pepperdine University president Andrew Benton has been elected as the next chair of our board of directors,” said NAICU president David L. Warren, according to the announcement. “Andy brings 17 years of presidential leadership experience to the NAICU Board chairmanship, including a term as chair of our Accountability Committee. His knowledge of private higher education is unparalleled and will be of great assistance to the association.”

More than 1,000 institutions and associations throughout the U.S. are members of NAICU. The association serves as the unified voice of private nonprofit higher education, according to its website. Since 1976, NAICU has represented private nonprofit colleges and universities on public policy issues with the federal government. NAICU represents institutions including major research universities, church-related colleges, historically black colleges, traditional liberal arts and science institutions, and women’s colleges, among others, according to the website. Board members encourage support of NAICU’s priorities and initiatives and oversee its financial administration.

“This seems to be an especially important time for all institutions of higher learning to work closely together and, perhaps, especially those in the independent sector,” Benton said. “Our work is noble, aimed at the very future of this nation. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve and I simply cannot imagine finer colleagues with whom to do so.”

A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Benton received his bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Oklahoma Christian University. He went on to graduate from Oklahoma City University’s School of Law.

In 1984, Benton joined Pepperdine University to oversee land-use opportunities. He went on to work as the chief of staff for the university’s sixth president, David Davenport. Benton became the university’s executive vice president and chief operational officer in 1991. In 2000, he was named Pepperdine’s seventh president and CEO.

Benton is a member of several associations including the American Council on Education, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, and the Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities. His essays on the state of higher education have appeared in numerous publications. Benton regularly teaches classes at Pepperdine.