In 1964, Dr. Bennett was appointed Professor of Surgery and Director of Plastic Surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1991. Ten years prior to retirement he was named Willis D. Gatch Professor of Surgery.
During Dr. Bennett's twenty seven year tenure, sixty surgeons completed the Plastic Surgery Residency at IUMC. While most entered private practice, four became university professors directing their own accredited training programs in the specialty. An additional thirteen former trainees have held faculty appointments at various universities.
Between 1978 and 1984, Dr. Bennett served one year terms as Chairman of The Residency Review Committee, Chairman of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and President of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. In 1991-92 he was Vice President of The American College of Surgeons.
At about the time of his retirement, Dr. Bennett received the Glenn W. Irwin Award for distinguished faculty service. The James E. Bennett Surgical Society was founded in 1991 by his former residents. During the next ten years, the James E. Bennett Professorship in Plastic Surgery was established and funded. The first such professor is Dr. John J. Coleman III, who succeeded Dr. Bennett as Director of Plastic Surgery in 1991.