Theresa Bonk is one of the ‘faces’ of Penn State

Theresa Bonk, director of student affairs at Penn State New Kensington, is one of the “Faces of Penn State,” an initiative that highlights the accomplishments of members of the Penn State community.

Students, faculty, staff, administrators, as well as alumni and local community members, are recognized for their embodiment of Penn State’s values of teaching, research and service. Bonk was honored for providing developmental growth opportunities to students on campus and students in the local community.

In her position at the campus, Bonk oversees the student services division. Appointed director in 2003, her responsibilities include the administration of career services, health services, crisis management, student leadership, minority and cultural programs, international student support, off-campus housing, personal counseling, new student orientation, students in transition, shuttle services, student conduct and student life.

During her tenure as acting athletic director from 2002-04, the men’s basketball and softball teams, as well as the Cheerleading squad, won state championships. In the past nine years, the Health Services Department was ranked No. 1 in the 2007 University Student Satisfaction Survey, the campus Orientation program earned a top ranking in 2010, and three staff members received top awards from the Student Affairs Division for their student affairs work and creative programs.

While organization, development and supervision is her forte, educating students on diversity and multi-cultural competencies is her passion. She has taught numerous cultural sensitivity and competency workshops to college students and created and implemented a special diversity workshop model for high school students. Last year, she led a team of faculty and students to complete a service learning project in South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Reservation.

“Our students learned so many things, but I think the most important thing was that there are some real challenges that are facing many of the Native Americans living in our country,” Bonk said. “Many were surprised by the fact that there was so much land in South Dakota but not a lot of development.”

Bonk is involved with many committees, commissions and conferences, both on the campus level and on the University level. At the campus, she has chaired Diversity Strategic Planning committees and teams and has been an active member of the Framework for Diversity Strategic Planning review team. University-wide, Bonk served as co-chair for the Penn State Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity and several Penn State Student Leadership Conferences.

When not on campus or at University Park, Bonk can be found in the community. She holds memberships and board positions with numerous nonprofit organizations. As a Rotarian, she is past president of the New Kensington Area Rotary and recently was appointed assistant governor for the 2013-14 term. She advocates for the promotion and support of cultural and fine arts programs and has served as president and treasurer of the Alle-Kiski Arts Consortium. Every March, the consortium exhibits the art of local high school students in the campus art gallery.

Bonk joined the campus in 1996 as student life coordinator and a year later was named assistant to the director of student affairs, under the tutelage of director Larry Pollock. She was named director when Pollock was selected as the campus' seventh chancellor. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications from Clarion University and a master's degree in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She also is a graduate of Class IX of Leadership Alle-Kiski Valley.

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Last Updated July 31, 2013