Dr. Bill Henk thinks of his career in education as beginning on his very first day of kindergarten. From then on, his experiences as a public school student in elementary, junior high, and senior high school all helped shape who he has become as an educator.
His roots can be traced to a blue-collar suburb of Pittsburgh, PA, where families of a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds resided. Most were working class Europeans like his own German and Italian heritage. The community could not have been more close-knit, warmer, or hospitable despite cultural differences.
Because Bill’s father worked as a janitor, his family lived modestly. Back then he was the only kid among his classmates whose mother had to work to make ends meet and whose family could not afford a car. His father commuted to work by public transportation nearly four hours per day. Bill didn’t live in real poverty, but he has some sense of what it means to “go without” even though his parents routinely made sacrifices on behalf of their two children.
His home was a very loving and supportive one, and his mother and father exerted a major effect on his life. Neither had the chance to pursue their own educations, and they were determined to make sure that Bill and his sister had those opportunities. No question existed about the value placed on learning in the Henk household. Grades of “B” required some serious explaining.
Bill was a solid student, but didn’t maintain the remarkable academic record of his sister, who graduated third in her high school class. He excelled in both baseball and basketball, even earning a college athletic scholarship. To this day, he credits sports with teaching him the values of goal setting, commitment, teamwork, hard work, and mental and emotional toughness.
As an educator, he believes that these values have served him well as a secondary English major, an elementary school reading specialist, a doctoral student, a professor, a department chair, and now a dean.
Dr. Henk feels blessed to have a wonderful wife, Lisa, and a special young daughter, Audrey. He looks forward to watching Audrey continue to grow and mature, and hopes to see her graduate from Marquette in the class of 2027!
Bill is honored to work at outstanding institution where students not only develop intellectually, but socially, ethically, emotionally, and spiritually. And besides valuing Marquette’s astute balance of teaching, research and service excellence, he is deeply indebted to the university for enriching his own professional and spiritual growth.
On a casual note, playing the guitar and writing music have been long-time favorite pastimes for Bill, and when time permits, he also enjoys reading and writing, exercising, photography, and art. And, owing to his Pittsburgh origins, he is an absolutely hopeless Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
But most of all, he cherishes spending time with his family, which includes a genuinely crazy Labrador Retriever and two huge Maine Coon cats.
To find out more about Bill Henk, visit his Marquette biography. You might also want to check out his Facebook page, some letters he’s written to MU Education majors, and a narrated slide show he did (aka Pecha Kucha) about how his daughter changed his professional life.