A Dandy Decade as Dean

10th anniversaryBy Bill Henk – Good grief, where does the time go? This past Tuesday, July 1, 2014, marked the completion of 10 full years of on-the-job service to my beloved Marquette.

As anniversaries go, it could have been classified as either tin, aluminum, diamond, sapphire, blue, silver, or daffodil.  No matter how it’s labeled, the journey has been both fascinating and gratifying.

On one hand, I can’t believe a whole decade has passed since I began as Dean of the College of Education.  And on the other hand, I feel like I’ve been in my position almost forever — in the most positive way imaginable.

You see, Marquette University is my home; it’s where I believe I’m supposed to be.  To my mind, the first quarter century of my time in the world of the academy, spent at the University of Georgia, Penn State University, and Southern Illinois University, amounted to a prelude to my current destiny.  And eventually, my academic and administrative career will conclude here fondly as well.  Fact is, I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.

Oh sure, I’ve faced my fair share of challenges over the years.  But pretty early on in my time here, I came to realize that my deanship amounted to an extraordinary professional opportunity, an intellectual and social gift, and dare I say, a calling?

For me, it just doesn’t get any better than working for the greater glory of God in a Catholic, Jesuit University of academic renown.   It is an absolute joy to fulfill one’s purpose in an institution of higher education with a soul.  And I could go on indefinitely on how I’ve literally been blessed to have interacted for some 3,652 days with an amazing group of Marquette colleagues — administrators, faculty, and staff,  not to mention our remarkable students and Trustees, a wealth of outstanding community leaders,  exceptional alumni, and benevolent friends of the College and the University.

Reaching this milestone caused me to reflect on what’s actually been accomplished on my watch.  Under the circumstances, it seems only fitting to provide a Top 10 list.  Here are my personal favorites, largely in chronological order:

  1. Our multiple, successful national and state accreditation and re-accreditation efforts — NCATE, APA, CACREP, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)
  2. The re-designation of our academic unit from a School to a College of Education
  3. The success of our Hartman Literacy and Learning Center and our Behavior Clinic at Penfield
  4. Our co-founding of the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium (GMCEC)
  5. Bringing Teach For America to Milwaukee
  6. Launching the Marquette Educator blog
  7. Service to Milwaukee Succeeds, the Education Deans of Greater Milwaukee (EDGM), the Milwaukee Academy of Science, the Milwaukee Tennis and Education Foundation, the Greater Milwaukee Committee Education Committee, DPI, the Milwaukee Partnership Academy, and the Catholic School Commission
  8. The establishment of our College’s annual Mission Recognition Awards
  9. Setting a national precedent by sponsoring a Cristo Rey high school feasibility study
  10. Our first million dollar gift

Looking to the future,  I see many new and exciting possibilities.  Several are already percolating.  Most represent innovative community partnerships of one kind or another.   But they’re not ready for prime time, so I’ll resist the urge to put them on the record.

I have every confidence that our successes with accreditation efforts will continue including our venture into the new world of CAEP, formerly NCATE.  The Hartman Center, the Behavior Clinic, and the GMCEC will continue to shine, and hopefully new resources will accrue to each operation.  Teach For America Milwaukee will evolve as an organization, and the College will adapt accordingly.

The Marquette Educator will continue to enjoy excellent writing from an ever-expanding, diversified bevy of bloggers.  Our annual magazine will dazzle, and we’ll have an even better website and social media presence.

Milwaukee Succeeds will make significant headway in closing the achievement gap in the region.  The EDGM’s new mission and set of guiding principles will position the group to be notably more impactful and relevant in the community. Catholic schools will grow stronger as Cristo Rey Jesuit High School becomes a difference maker for the city.  Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni will continue to rack up professional awards.    And hopefully, more alumni, friends, and benefactors will step up to help the College do its innovative work around educational reform, rooted squarely in social justice.

To sum up, let me just say, “thanks for a wonderful 10 years,” Marquette and Milwaukee.

4 Responses to “A Dandy Decade as Dean”

  1. 1 Donna Fisher July 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Bill, congratulations on a very special anniversary & a job well done!!


    • 2 billhenk July 4, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Thanks, Donna. My years at Marquette have clearly been the best time in my career. Not sure how much of a second decade there will be for me here given my age, but I plan to enjoy the remainder of my journey, the duration of which will depend on how long I can truly contribute to the University.


  2. 3 Kathleen Cepelka July 8, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Congratulations, Bill! I’m very proud to call you my colleague, leader, and friend.


    • 4 billhenk July 12, 2014 at 11:15 am

      The sentiment is 100% mutual, Kathleen. The years we worked together at Marquette are ones I will cherish forever, and I am so glad that our professional collaborations can continue in our respective roles.


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