June 20, 2021

Hall of Fame

Carroll Bennett

Carroll Bennett was born to a family that held education in high esteem. Of his parents, Erskine and Vina Bennett, his mother, was a teacher. His brother was Jim Bennett. Carroll was raised in Newton, graduated from Newton High School and was instrumental in establishing Des Moines Area Community College’s (DMACC) Newton Campus. Carroll’s career at DMACC is storied.

During his tenure, he oversaw the growth of the college from a single site with a few dozen students to a network of Campuses boasting thousands of students spread out across Central Iowa. In Newton specifically, Carroll was the driving force behind the establishment of a Campus in the City. He served as the first Newton Campus Provost, with his official duties beginning in the Fall 1991. His tireless work led to the College’s inaugural class in Fall 1991. The launch was a great success and the Newton Campus thrived. It would be hard to envision during his distinguished career as a college administrator, Carroll was respected nationally as an advocate for vocational education. He regularly consulted on behalf of the American Vocational Association in Washington, D.C., and even appeared before Congress — in support of vocational education, twice. Carroll was instrumental in developing unique partnerships between DMACC, Maytag Company, and City of Newton ~ a wonderful legacy to his native city.

He served even after his retirement, he remained active in leadership roles in his community by serving the DMACC Pioneers volunteer group and remaining a member of a number of clubs including Rotary, Optimists, and Lions. Carroll served on Board of Skiff Medical Center, Mercy College of health Services, and Wesley Retirement Services. With his supportive wife, Mary Jo, they established the Bennett Family Scholarship at DMACC to find tuition for deserving students. Carroll had never forgotten his appreciation as a student having received a Maytag Scholarship which led him to college.

Carroll and Mary Jo met on a blind date to church while both at the University of Iowa in 1955, they had many happy memories of their time together in Iowa City including forming many lifelong friendships. Carroll’s life was “glorious” because of Mary Jo-her love, understanding, patience, support, and stability. Their many trips all over the world were shared with not only their fellow travelers, but with many friends who traveled “with them” via correspondence and shared photos. They were the ideal couple for nearly 60 years, which bore 3 beloved sons and their families.

Shortly before he passed, Carroll shared a quote that still resonates today: “The fact that one retires doesn’t have to mean that you can no longer continue your commitment and experience joy in achieving the bigger goal — to building DMACC and assist people in improving their lives.”

Until his passing, Carroll lived out his mission. Carroll deserves to be honored by his alma mater and I wish he were still with us to celebrate his love for his home community.” ~ Robert J. Denson, President, Des Moines Area Community College.