Meg Benke is a national and international adult and continuing education leader. Her graduate studies and early professional life sensitized her to the needs, motivations, and struggles of students, especially adult learners. She developed a passion for and became an advocate of robust, broadly-accessible, quality education and support for these learners. As a practitioner, teaching at Antioch College, and then in administrative roles at SUNY Empire State College, she advanced the state of knowledge in adult learning and enriched the practitioner community.
As Director and Dean of Distance Education, then Vice-Provost, Provost, and Acting President at SUNY ESC, an adult-serving college, she oversees a budget of $60 million and has worked diligently to increase the reach of that institution’s programs across New York State, spearheading the enrollments online, from a few thousand to more than 10,000. She worked collaboratively in this progressive institution to merge past establishments with more recent technological innovations. Her vigorous efforts at SUNY ESC span a wide range, including creating new programs, extending access to new markets, uplifting quality, and prior learning through her work on accreditation with the New York State Regents and serving on policy councils and committees. As a professor and mentor in the School for Graduate Studies, she continues this reach through mentoring students in adult learning and emerging technologies.
Her commitment to adult and continuing education is also seen in her work as the volunteer president of the Sloan Consortium, a position she has held for the past three years. Sloan-C is the largest membership society devoted solely to improving scale, quality, and choices in online education where adult learners are the predominant majority. Because of her strong guidance, Sloan-C has a competent staff, a sound strategy, and financial strength. Sloan-C is now expanding its services (courses, certifications, publications, etc.) that strengthen hundreds of institutions that enroll tens of thousands of adult learners.
Dr. Benke believes strongly in the importance of contributing to one’s profession to advance the field beyond her own institution. In the 1980s and 1990s, she contributed at multiple levels to the American College Personnel Association, leading efforts to focus student services for adults. She also co-wrote the first manual on learner support for distance students through the University of Wisconsin. This led to work with Sloan-C, where she chaired efforts to promote Pillar in Student Satisfaction and Learner Support, expanding conference tracks, inviting speakers, writing institute papers, and convening workshops. Her work in this area led to being named as conference program chair and member of the founding board of directors. Under her leadership, the national conference expanded in number of participants as well as in quality. Volunteer professionals became less operational and more engaged with program quality.