Varnell A. Bench, associate dean for continuing education in the College of Education at Utah State University, has been named Utah's Teacher Educator of the Year.

Bench was honored at the annual meeting of the Utah Association for Teacher Educators.Bench, a Logan native, returned to USU in 1983 after working two years in Somalia, East Africa, with USU Extension. Before that he was director of USU's Uintah Basin Center for Continuing Education from 1975 to 1980, and is credited with increasing enrollment 282 percent.

Bench began his career in education in 1973 as a teacher at Wahlquist Junior High School in Ogden. While principal of South Ogden Junior High School in the early 1970s, he developed a nationally recognized career education program.

At USU, Bench developed the first concurrent enrollment program in the state and the Academic Olympiad, which draws several hundred high school students to campus each year.