Leslie Freemon Benmark (’67, ’70)

Category: Awards | Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna

2021 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner

In a profession dominated by men, Leslie Benmark has blazed numerous trails to become one of the foremost experts on supply chain engineering. In addition to contributing to her profession, she strives to better society through her work and civic actions.

Benmark began her rise as a student at UT, earning both her BS and MS in industrial engineering. She also holds a PhD in information engineering from Vanderbilt University and a JD from Widener University’s Delaware Law School.

In her career at DuPont, Benmark served in numerous roles including industrial engineering supervisor, planning and cost analysis supervisor, and engineering design supervisor. In her final role as Six Sigma black belt for Global Information Technology and Solutions, she led multiple teams to improve productivity and customer satisfaction with savings of over $11 million.

A number of organizations have benefited from Benmark’s expertise. At Vanderbilt she served as director of the Women Engineering program. She has served on the Manufacturing Studies Board of the National Research Council and was the first woman president of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. She has also served the institute for Industrial Engineers as group vice president of professional enhancement, a member of the board of directors, and in other roles. Benmark assisted the National Science Foundation as a member of its Directorate for Engineering Advisory and Engineering Education Coalition Selection Panel, and as chair of NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow selection. She is currently a member of the Board of Progressive Directions Inc. and a fellow of IIE, ABET, and the Institute of Engineers of Ireland.

In 1993, Benmark was elected to the NationalAcademy of Engineering, the highest honor an engineer can receive, and served as the academy’s liaison to the National Research Council. She is also a recipient of the Grinter Service Award, the highest honor bestowed by ABET for outstanding service to engineering education. Benmark has been inducted into UT’s Industrial Engineering Hall of Fame, and in 2018 the Tickle College of Engineering presented her with the Nathan W. Dougherty Award, its most prestigious honor. Other recognitions include the Tennessee Outstanding Young Woman Award, the Governor’s Outstanding Tennessean Award, and Delaware Engineer of the Year.

Benmark has been extensively involved with Civitan International, a global organization that furthers positive change for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She served a term on the organization’s international board and as governor for two years of the Valley District, and she is a current member of the Civitan International Junior Foundation.