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EIU Media Relations

EIU names Bonnekessen next College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean


(Charleston, Illinois) — Eastern Illinois University has named Dr. Barbara Bonnekessen as the next dean of the university’s newly combined College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“I am extremely excited to join EIU’s Liberal Arts and Sciences professionals and to instill in our students the kind of confidence that will continue to empower their intellectual, artistic, and scientific pursuits,” Bonnekessen said. “It’s an exciting new time at EIU and for the College as the higher education landscape continues to evolve. I’m looking forward to how we can work together to navigate change, inspire innovation, and create interesting and engaging pathways for our students to achieve their personal and professional goals.”

Dr. Jay Gatrell, EIU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, is equally excited about the future of the College, as well as the leadership and experience Bonnekessen will bring to EIU.

“For many EIU students, our College Liberal Arts and Sciences becomes a cornerstone of their development and serves as the catalyst for future opportunities,” Gatrell said. “A unique synergy is created when students in the STEM disciplines, arts, humanities, and social sciences interact and engage with one another across disciplines. I look forward to how Barbara’s awareness of these interactions and relationships can work to endow EIU students with the hard and soft skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive, global environment. Additionally, I want to especially thank the search committee for their hard work and dedication in helping to select our new dean.”

Bonnekessen brings a wealth of experience with her to EIU’s dean position. She began her career as a lecturer in Kansas, serving at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park (1994-96) and Washburn University in Topeka (1994-95) before becoming program director for the Lawrence Alliance Against Racism and Discrimination in Lawrence. From there, she also moved into various roles at the University of Missouri—Kansas City (1995-2007), serving as a lecturer, a visiting assistant professor and director of both the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the American Humanics Certificate Program. From 2007-14, Bonnekessen transitioned into assistant and associate professorships at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, also taking on roles as director of the Women’s Resource Center and chair of the Department of Communication, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. In 2014, Bonnekessen joined Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, serving in graduate professorship roles and most recently as hired chair of the university’s Department of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences.

Bonnekessen earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Kansas in 1994, an MS in Sociology & Anthropology from Purdue University in 1986, and a BA equivalency degree at the Institute for Ancient American Languages and Cultures at the University of Hamburg, Germany in 1983. In addition to her degrees, Bonnekessen has earned a variety of certificates and professional development credentials, including the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management Development Program (2016).

Bonnekessen’s research includes the authoring of a 2012 book, “Of Homonculus Born: A Short History of Invisible Women” and a variety of professional journal articles focusing on topics from colonial sexism and poverty to work-life balance and Native American genocide. Her career also includes a catalog of professional and conference presentations spanning a wide array of topics in the social sciences and humanities areas.

EIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences prepares students to become thoughtful individuals, skilled professionals, and dynamic citizens prepared to seek personal fulfillment and career gratification. Citing a desire to sharpen the mission of EIU’s colleges and create a robust foundation for ongoing new program development, EIU combined and renamed the College of Arts and Humanities and the College of Sciences to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in summer 2018. The reorganized College houses the newly unified School of Communication and Journalism and a new School of the Arts (Music, Art and Design, and Theatre), alongside the Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Geology/Geography, English, Foreign Language, History, Mathematics and Computer Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology/Anthropology/Criminal Justice departments.

For more information about EIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, visit

For more information about EIU, or to learn more about its growing assortment of programs and services, visit the university’s website at, or call EIU’s public information office at (217) 581-7400.

PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Barbara Bonnekessen has been selected to lead EIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as the College’s new dean. Bonnekessen’s deanship at EIU will begin July 13.



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Media Relations
Josh Reinhart, Public Information Coordinator

2142 Old Main
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
Fax: 217-581-8444

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