Benny L. Gooden, Ed.D.

Benny L. Gooden retired as superintendent of schools in Fort Smith, Arkansas, after 30 years in that position.  He has served in public education for 50 years as a teacher, building administrator, central office administrator and for 41 years as a school superintendent. Gooden has served as President of his state administrators association, and as President of the American Association of School Administrators Association (AASA) in 2012-2013.  He was named Arkansas Superintendent of the Year in 1992, recipient of the Dr. Dan Pilkington Award by the Arkansas School Boards Association in 2000 and the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Award by the National PTA in 1999.  He was presented the Citation of Merit by the University of Missouri College of Education Alumni Association in 2010 and the Distinguished Service Award by the American Association of School Administrators in 2014. In 2014 he was named Administrator of the Year by the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association and he received the Educational Excellence Award from AdvancED in 2015. The Arkansas Teachers for National Board Certification presented Gooden with its Advocate for Education Award in 2014.

Gooden is a visiting assistant professor in educational leadership at the University of Arkansas.  He is a frequent lecturer on educational leadership issues dealing with legislation, governance, and finance.  Gooden has served on numerous AASA committees and was director of the AASA Singing Superintendents for more than 20 years. He has been involved with legislative issues affecting public education at the state and national levels for many years.

Dr. Gooden and his wife, Martha, are the parents of three children.  Charles M. is a general surgeon practicing in Fort Smith with Sparks Health System; Marcus is a product/packaging designer in Loma Linda, CA and LeighAnn is an emergency room physician with Mayo Clinic’s Lacrosse, WI facility.  The Goodens have nine grandchildren.


  • 1966 – Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Harding University
  • 1969 – Master of Education in Educational Administration from the University of Arkansas
  • 1976 – Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from the University of Missouri

Involvement in Leadership

  •  North Central Association/AdvancED  Board of Trustees 2002-2009; Chair 2007-2009
  • Arkansas Association of School Administrators; President 1998-1999
  • American Association of School Administrators; Executive Committee 2008-2014;
  • President 2012-2013
  • Arkansas Blue Ribbon Commission on Education 2001; Curriculum Chair
  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Board of Directors 2013-present
  • Fort Smith Symphony Board of Directors 1988-2002; President 1992-1994; 2000-2001
  • Degen Foundation Board of Directors

Areas of Expertise/Interest

  • Leadership development and teaching relative to public education
  • Musical performance and enjoyment
  • Legislation and public affairs