This year, the Colorado State University College of Health and Human Sciences recognized the Department of Construction Management alumnus, Clay Benson (’83) as a recipient of the Friend of the College Award, which recognizes those individuals who have supported the college in extraordinary ways.
Benson has been a continuous supporter of both CM and the College of Health and Human Sciences. He currently serves as corporate market director at Mortenson Construction in Denver, and is a DBIA Designated Design Build Professional, and USGBC LEED Accredited Professional.
As a longtime member and the current chair of CM’s Professional Advisory Development Board, Benson has been involved with the department to help with numerous initiatives such as curriculum development and diversity-related recruitment and retention efforts. He has supported both undergraduate and graduate students by providing valuable internship opportunities.
However, Benson’s relationship with CSU began long before he entered the CM program. He is a third generation Denver native and the youngest of
four children, all who attended CSU. In fact, his oldest sister received her bachelor’s in interior design, and her master’s in construction management. While attending CSU, Benson met his wife, Marta. They have two children; their daughter graduated from CSU with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Even though Benson was accepted at both the University of Colorado, and CSU, he’s glad he selected CSU. “The campus, faculty and students felt more comfortable to me,” he said. “In retrospect, I attribute that to the land grant, ag school roots.” Having started out in civil engineering, Benson transferred to construction management his junior year, after a friend convinced him to take a few CM classes, and found that to be a better fit.
Career and work experience
Asked about his construction experience and work history, Benson has an impressive resume. “I’ve worked for five commercial construction companies since graduation,” he explained. “I started with Hensel Phelps and spent ten years working in Denver, Colorado Springs, Chicago and Nashville. When my wife became pregnant with our oldest, we decided to move back west and work in Albuquerque for a couple of years for Jaynes Corporation before moving back to Denver in 1995. I worked for Pinkard until 2001, when we moved to Colorado Springs, where I worked for GE Johnson, until joining Mortenson in 2005. My wife and I moved to Fort Collins in 2017.”
As Benson looks toward retirement within the next five years or so, he hopes to increase the amount of time he gives back to the community, and specifically, CM. Having taught in the CM certificate program in Denver, and also having been a guest lecturer numerous times, Benson is open to the possibility of teaching – whether it’s in those same capacities or something different. His work ethic is inspiring.
“Go to work each day with high energy, a great attitude and a humility to learn from those you work with. Be open to all possibilities that the world provides you,” he said.
Advice for CM students
CM students always appreciate hearing advice from their predecessors working in the industry. Benson offers, “I highly recommend as soon as you can start internships – for credit or not – negotiate an internship. The more face-time you have in front of companies, and a variety of companies, the more experience you gain. And that experience is of huge value. Be more aggressive than the internship requirements.”
Clearly, his own advice has served him well. Because he has always lent a helping hand in times of critical needs, Benson has provided invaluable service to both the Department of Construction Management, and to the College of Health and Human Sciences. CM RamBuilt, he serves as an outstanding recipient of the Friend of the College award.