Former U.S. Ambassador Benjaminson picked to lead GOC

The Office of International Affairs (OIA) has appointed former U.S. Ambassador to Gabon and to Sao Tome & Principe, Eric Benjaminson, as the first executive director of the Gabon Oregon Transnational Research Center on Environment and Development (GOC—Eugene, OR branch).  

Ambassador Benjaminson, originally from Brownsville, Oregon, and a UO alumnus (1981, History, Honors College), recently retired from a 32-year career with the US Foreign Service, having served in Europe, China, Canada, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Namibia, and Gabon.  

“My colleagues and I are delighted that he has agreed to bring his expertise in diplomacy, economic development, African social change, and the promotion of applied research to the new Gabon-Oregon Center,” said Vice Provost for International Affairs Dennis Galvan.

Benjaminson will work closely with UO faculty and students to develop research, training, and outreach projects that address sustainable development in Gabon.  

Through the statewide Oregon African Studies Consortium (OASC), Benjaminson will also establish partnerships with colleagues from Oregon State University (OSU), Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), Portland State University (PSU), and Willamette University. 

“Some of these contributions are already underway,” said Benjaminson. “We have started an internship opportunity for UO students to work at the Smithsonian's Conservation Center in southern Gabon. We are providing faculty with access to exciting research terrain, including some of Africa's most pristine old-growth forests, and contacts with Gabonese who have a deep expertise in areas such as climate change mediation, emissions monitoring and control, rural epidemiology, and the fight against malaria and tuberculosis.”

Galvan and Benjaminson see GOC as an incubator for joint-research opportunities and interests for Gabon and Oregon. Their hope is that GOC will evolve into an egalitarian, shared research and development model for UO’s future relationships with developing countries.

For more information about the Gabon-Oregon Center and its mission to build new North-South partnerships, applying Oregon expertise to global sustainable development challenges, connect to

The Gabon-Oregon Center is one of seven units of the Global Studies Institute (GSI) within the UO Office of International Affairs. To learn about GSI and its member units visit