College of Charleston President George Benson earned an average score of 3.9 out of a possible 5 on this year's performance evaluation, marking the third consecutive year his score has declined.

The college's Board of Trustees, however, appears largely satisfied with Benson's overall performance. Last month, it gave him a three-year contract extension through 2015.

Benson has had three previous evaluations, in 2008, 2009 and 2010, on which he earned average scores of 4.7, 4.6 and 4.2, respectively, on a scale of 1 to 5.

Board Chairman Greg Padgett said, "The board has confidence in the president as evidenced by its decision to extend his employment agreement."

On a 15-question performance rating sheet, board members gave Benson the highest average scores on reflecting the core values of the agency and acting ethically. His lowest scores were in establishing a good working relationship with the General Assembly and having a positive influence on employee morale and performance.

The decline in Benson's average score isn't unusual, Padgett said. "The longer a CEO or president is in that position, the more tough decisions they make. That will divide opinions."

Padgett also said Benson's new contract includes specific, measurable goals and objectives. Those new measures will clear up any ambiguity and improve relations between Benson and the board, he said.

In a prepared statement, Benson said, "I appreciate the support of the Board of Trustees. In particular, I thank the board for the trust they have shown in me by the approval of a three-year contract extension. I welcome the opportunity to receive candid feedback from the board on my performance."

Benson did not receive a salary increase. His current salary is $366,000 -- $166,000 from the state and $200,000 from the College of Charleston Foundation. His contract also includes use of an on-campus home, a car, health insurance and other benefits.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491.