argarita Benítez was born and raised at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), where she was a Professor of Humanities, Chancellor of UPR’s Cayey Campus, and Acting Chancellor of the Humacao Campus. As a senior official at the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) in the U.S. Dept. of Education (1998-2004), Benítez directed the nationwide launch of GEAR UP and the Title V Institutional Development for Hispanic-Serving Institutions programs. She also headed all minority-serving institutional development programs at OPE. At the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), she directed the 100-institution BEAMS Project (Building Engagement and Attainment for Minority Students), and the National Articulation and Transfer Network. As director for higher education at The Education Trust, she coordinated the Access to Success Initiative, made up by twenty-three state systems of higher education. Since 2006, she has been a Senior Associate at Excelencia in Education, a research and policy organization focused on Latino student success in higher education. Most recently, she served as Interim Assistant Vice President of Leadership Programs at the American Council on Education, overseeing from 2013 to 2016 the nation’s most renowned higher education leadership development initiative, the ACE Fellows Program.
In 2013, Benítez was one of four educators in the United States selected as a Lumina Fellow by Lumina Foundation for Education, in recognition of her work on behalf of access and success in higher education. She holds degrees from Vassar College, Middlebury College, and Columbia University.