Everything by Design
Dr. Mark Benden ’89 ’92 ’06 helped create a better future, one
desk at a time.
Howdy Ags,
Like so many of Texas A&M University’s faculty, Dr. Mark
Benden ’89 ’92 ’06 is addressing real-world, important problems
through his work. As head of the Department of Environmental and
Occupational Health in the School of Public Health, Benden has
played a major role in combating the global obesity epidemic by
designing standing desks that encourage physical movement in
schools and the workplace.
Dr. Benden entered Texas A&M University as a bioengineering
major with plans of becoming a physician. After he took an
ergonomics class his senior year, however, he realized he could
make large-scale improvements to public health just by redesigning everyday objects with health in mind. For 20 years, Benden
developed ergonomic products for companies before he set his
sights on tackling obesity.
Seeing how modern classroom and workplace environments
encouraged students and workers to sit down throughout the day,
Benden set out to design a standing desk that would incentivize
individuals to move. Collaborating with the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, he deployed his stand-biased desks in 24
College Station elementary classrooms for two years and found
that students who used them were more active and less likely to
gain weight throughout the year.
Since then, Benden sold his standing desk company to Varidesk, a
giant in the field of active workplace products. With proceeds from
the sale, he and his wife, Teresa ’88, established an endowed scholarship for students in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. Today, he thrives on interacting with students and
seeing Aggies develop and grow through teaching and mentorship.
After spending years designing better, healthier everyday products
for people across the world, Benden is giving back to Aggie
students who may eventually do the same through his mentorship
and generosity.
He is not the only faculty member giving back to the university,
either. Former, current and retired Texas A&M faculty and staff
have given more than $79 million to benefit the university’s Lead by
Example campaign. Their wholesale commitment to developing a
premier education for students creates the learning environment
in Aggieland we see today. The impact they make is everywhere
you look. Like a desk that does its job perfectly, their work is very
intentional, by design.
Thanks and Gig ’em!

Tyson Voelkel ’96
President & CEO, Texas A&M Foundation
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