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University community mourns the death of Stephen Benedict, professor of microbiology

Monday, December 09, 2019

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has lost a longtime faculty member to a battle with cancer. Stephen Benedict, professor of microbiology, died Dec. 2 in Lawrence. He was 72.

“Professor Benedict was a dedicated researcher and an inspirational and award-winning teacher to his many hundreds of students during his long career at KU,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “On behalf of the entire university, I offer my sincere condolences to his family, his friends and all who knew him throughout his time at KU.”

Benedict came to KU in 1990 as an assistant professor of pharmacology & toxicology and later moved to the Department of Molecular Biosciences. Benedict was named full professor in 2008, a position he held until his death.

He touched the lives of many hundreds of KU undergraduates, said Susan Egan, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences. Among Benedict’s career honors were numerous awards recognizing his influence on students. Those honors included the Kemper Teaching Award, the Robert Weaver Graduate Mentoring Award, the J. Michael Young Academic Advisor Award, the Chancellors Club Teaching Professorship and the Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award.

Moreover, Benedict was voted Favorite Biology Professor – from among nearly 50 biology faculty members — five times over the past 15 years, Egan said.

Benedict’s research interests centered on immune-related disorders specifically related to T-cells. He published nearly 90 academic papers, received six U.S. patents and made numerous service contributions to the field, from serving on grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health to serving as associate editor of the Journal of Immunology.

“Steve’s loss will be felt widely among the KU community and far beyond,” Egan said. “He will be remembered for the deep caring he showed for his students, his positivity and his tremendous sense of humor.”

A celebration of life service is planned for Jan. 18, 2020, in Lawrence.