Bonnekessen named new CLAS dean

Corryn Brock, News Editor

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Eastern named Barbara Bonnekessen the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Monday, and she will begin the position July 13.

Bonnekessen is the chair of the department of history, philosophy and social sciences at Pittsburg State University in Kansas.

Bonnekessen said she is excited to work with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences because of its makeup.

“I am very much looking forward to working with all the very exciting departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as with the other colleges and the rest of the university; it’s a very vibrant collection of fields that have been the foundation of public education for centuries and they are both very traditional and cutting edge and that’s a very exciting combination,” Bonnekessen said.

Ryan Hendrickson, the dean of the Graduate School and chair of the CLAS dean search committee, said Bonnekessen did well during her visit and that she has an interesting background.

“Dr. Bonnekessen did a wonderful job on her interview. She connected well with students, faculty and administrators,” Hendrickson said. “She’s led an interdisciplinary department and as dean you work with many different disciplines so that was very attractive.”

Hendrickson said he believes she will be a good fit for faculty and students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“I think she’s going to do a wonderful job as dean and can speak to all of our faculty and students in the liberal arts and in the sciences,” Hendrickson said.

Bonnekessen said she plans to start her deanship by talking with the individuals in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“I would like to start by listening to what the faculty, students and staff are already doing. You know the saying about new brooms and how they sweep, you don’t want to sweep anything that works well and so listening and getting to know the culture, getting to know the local culture is important to me,” Bonnekessen said.

Jeannie Ludlow, English professor and the president for Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, led Bonnekessen’s interview during her visit and said she felt Bonnekessen was approachable.

“She seemed real, she was personable, and she talked to us and she listened and responded,” Ludlow said.

Ludlow added that Bonnekessen’s experience and understanding of the innerworkings of universities was impressive, as well as Bonnekessen’s interest in Eastern.

“She seemed to like us, she seemed to really like Eastern and when we asked her why she would want to be here she was like ‘you’ve got some really cool things going on here and I want to be a part of that and I think I can help’ and it felt genuine, like someone you would want to sit and talk to and say ‘what do we have going on and how could we make this better and how can we make that better’ it just felt like she was simultaneously positive about what we’re already doing but also bringing her own ideas to the table and that’s a hard balance to strike and I felt like she did it really well,” Ludlow said.

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].