Honors College 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Honored
The 37th Annual Senior Honors Luncheon was held on Saturday, April 22, 2023 in the Kent State University Ballroom to recognize seniors graduating in the spring, summer and fall of 2023. This ceremony also provides an opportunity for the Honors College to recognize alumni who have served the college with their time and efforts to allow for increased opportunities for Honors students.
This year, the Honors College announced Gary Bengier, class of 1977, as the 2023 Distinguished Honors Alumni award recipient. Bengier graduated Summa cum Laude from Kent State with a Bachelor of Business Administration, majoring in computer science and operations research. Upon graduation, he relocated from Ohio to California, to begin an exciting career when several lines of computer science research in Silicon Valley were just getting started – including Artificial Intelligence (AI). Bengier culminated a business career focused on technology companies by building and leading the financial team in the early years at eBay. He was eBay’s chief financial officer from 1997 to 2001 and also served as senior vice president for strategic planning. Gary served on the board of directors of Logitech, Inc. and on the board of Cobalt Networks, a maker of computer server appliances, before retiring after 29 years in business.
Bengier earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, and also an M.A. in philosophy from San Francisco State University. He currently serves as a trustee of the Santa Fe Institute, serves on the board of trustees of the Exploratorium, an organization dedicated to science education for children, and is also chairman of the Bengier Foundation, which focuses on providing educational experiences for the next generation. Writer, philosopher and technologist, Bengier even released a science fiction novel in 2020 entitled, “Unfettered Journey”, which is available on Amazon, has been printed in eight languages and received numerous awards.
All throughout his successes and career developments, Gary Bengier did not forget the Honors College. A few years ago, Gary endowed a scholarship with the Honors College to fund study abroad opportunities for honors students. To date, almost 100 students have had the chance to study abroad thanks to funding from the Bengier Scholarship.
Also, in the pandemic year of 2020-21, he speedily and most graciously permitted the college to use about $30,000 from the Bengier Scholarship for emergency tuition money - a gift which carried a number of seniors that year to their graduation day.
Bengier, who was unable to attend the luncheon in person due to a previously planned trip to watch his 10th solar eclipse on the other side of the world, addressed the audience through a pre-recorded video which was played at the luncheon, stating, “I am honored and indeed humbled, to have been chosen as this year’s Honors College Distinguished Alumnus and it is truly a great honor.”
The 1977 alum also addressed the Honors College seniors in attendance at the luncheon, stating, “You have the tools. You can think critically. You can use logic and science to solve problems. You can convince others and motivate them to follow wise paths... you are our best and our brightest. You cannot shrink from these challenges.”
Bengier and his wife Cynthia of 45 years, also a graduate of the Honors College, have two children and reside in San Francisco. He enjoys travelling the world, raising bees and creating Cabernet wine at his family’s Napa vineyard.
The Distinguished Honors Alumni Award was started in 1997 and recognizes an outstanding Honors College alumna or alumnus for his or her professional success, contributions to their community, the Honors College and Kent State University. View the complete list of Distinguished Honors Alumni on the Honors College website.
A live stream of the entire 37th Annual Senior Honors luncheon, including Bengier’s acceptance speech, was recorded at the Honors College event.