Whidbey students choose Benway as Graduate Instructor of the Year

June 02, 2015 by Margo Myers
Mike Benway

Mike Benway

Mike Benway, named 2015 Graduate Instructor of the Year at Brandman University’s campus at NAS Whidbey, isn’t one to call attention to his own accomplishments. So when students recognized him at their recent commencement ceremony in Oak Harbor, Washington, Benway graciously accepted the award.

“I was surprised,” said Benway, “but mostly I am honored. It’s nice to know the students consider and appreciate the work I do with them.” He’s been teaching organizational leadership at Brandman the past 15 years, estimating he’s worked with about 600 students in that time.

Before launching his teaching career, Benway worked for 30 years as a nurse and hospital administrator in the U.S. Navy. Joining the Navy in 1969, he focused on clinical work the first 15 years, spending the second half of his career in hospital administration. Along the way, Benway served at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and in California at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, Naval Medical Center San Diego, and Naval Hospital Lemoore.

Overseas, Benway had memorable postings, including serving on the USS Okinawa during Operation Eagle Pull, the U.S. led evacuation of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. During the first Gulf War in 1991, he served in Saudi Arabia with Fleet Hospital Five in a tent hospital, as well as in Cuba during the Haitian refugee crisis in the early 1990’s at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. And that’s not all. Benway also managed the U.S. Naval Hospital in Naples, Italy, as Executive Officer, noting “that was a fun one.”

Finally, Benway wrapped up an impressive career as the Commanding Officer at Naval Hospital Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. “I would have never expected the opportunities I’ve had to practice nursing and hospital administration in such a variety of situations,” said Benway.

In addition to an outstanding Navy career, Benway pursued advanced college degrees, receiving his Masters of Nursing in Psychology and Mental Health from the University of Pennsylvania, and his MBA from National University in Healthcare Administration and Management.

Getting his degrees later in life gives Benway “an appreciation” for what adult students go through. “I went through it myself,” said Benway. “As a professor, I realize that my students have lives outside of the classroom with families and jobs in addition to class.”

Now, Benway enjoys his adult students. He describes them as “ready to learn” bringing their diverse workplace experience into the classroom. “I’ve had students who’ve worked as a museum director, to the base administrator of the airfield, to ‘stay at home’ spouses all wanting their degrees,” said Benway. “I tell my students that I hope they latch onto the theories that Brandman classes give them, and apply them in real life. In fact, I wish I would have had that information earlier in my career.”

In spite of the demands of raising three grandchildren who are in their teens, Benway has no plans to end his teaching career anytime soon. “I enjoy the stimulation and the classroom interaction,” he said. Given the Graduate Instructor of the Year award, it’s clear his students return the sentiment.

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