Dr. Russell Benton ’61 claims the title of Erskine’s “Most Traveled Alumnus,” having visited 193 foreign destinations on seven continents. Benton began his travels in the summer of 1964 when Alumni Director Winnie Phillips took a group of students and alumni to Scotland and Scandinavia. His love for travel is “all Winnie’s fault,” he says. “If she hadn’t taken me on that trip in 1964 I would have never begun traveling the world.”
Benton’s travels in the summer of 2014 took him back to that first trip outside the United States. He returned to Scotland and Scandinavia after making two stops—one at the University of Cambridge to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his year as a Visiting Scholar of History there in 1989, then another at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, where he taught history for two years.
Benton has spent 45 years in academia, primarily at Lenoir-Rhyne University. When he arrived at Erskine in 1957, he was unsure about what he wanted to do after graduation. “My four years at Erskine were among the happiest years of my life and made me want to spend the rest of my life in academia,” he says. Despite his love of history, Benton’s favorite courses at Erskine were art appreciation and music appreciation, both taught by the late Professor Felix Bauer.
In the spring of 2012 Benton’s academic career came full circle. After retiring from Lenoir-Rhyne he moved back to Due West and was given the opportunity to teach one of his favorite courses, Russian history, at his alma mater.
Benton continues making plans for future travels, including a trip to Southeast Asia in the spring of 2015 which will add Myanmar to the list of countries he has visited.