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Leadership changes this summer at the Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center is in the middle of some big personnel changes!

After 41 years of service at BYU, Sandra Rogers is retiring. The Kennedy Center’s own Renata Forste has been appointed to replace her as international vice president of the university, effective August 2021.

Forste has served as director of the Kennedy Center and as associate international vice president of BYU since 2017. Other positions she has held at BYU include coordinator of the Women’s Studies program; chair of the Sociology Department; associate dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Science; coordinator of the Kennedy Center’s Latin American Studies program; and associate director of research at the Center for Studies of the Family. She received her BS and MS degrees in sociology at BYU before earning her PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago. She began her career as a professor of sociology at Western Washington University; in 1995, she was hired by the Sociology Department at BYU, becoming full professor in 2006.

With Forste leaving for her new position, Stan Benfell has been named as her replacement, also effective August 2021.

Benfell has served as the Kennedy Center’s associate director for research and academic programs since 2018. He was previously the coordinator of the European Studies program and has been involved with study abroad programs at the London Centre; prior to that, he served as chair of the Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature department. He has also been involved in numerous department and university committees, including the Rank and Status Committee, the University Curriculum Council, the Honors Faculty Council, the Faculty Executive Committee for European Studies, and the ISP oversight committee. Benfell earned his BA from BYU, then went to New York University for his MA and PhD degrees in comparative literature. He began working at BYU in 1993, becoming full professor in 2012.

Finally, with Benfell in a new position, Quinn Mecham has been named associate director for research and academic programs at the Kennedy Center, effective January 2022.

Mecham is currently the coordinator of the Middle East Studies/Arabic program at the Kennedy Center. In 2013 he joined the Political Science department at BYU and is currently an associate professor there. Prior to coming to BYU, he taught at Middlebury College and George Washington University. Mecham earned his BA in comparative literature at BYU before going to Stanford for his MA and PhD in political science. He was an Academy Scholar at Harvard University, a visiting scholar at George Washington University, and a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the U.S. Department of State, focusing on the Arab Gulf, political Islam, and global religious affairs.