Bonner joins UVA after nearly two decades of service at Pitt, where he has an extensive track record of deep and meaningful work across all facets of student experience and residential life, including leading a modernization and restructuring of the university’s student services.
In his incoming role, he will be responsible for an array of UVA programs that shape the daily lives of students, both on Grounds and off. These responsibilities include, but are by no means limited to, the Office of the Dean of Students, Judicial Affairs, the Department of Student Health and Wellness, the Office of African-American Affairs, Housing & Residence Life, and the University Career Center.
The chief student affairs officer also partners with student leaders involved in the Honor Committee, the University Judiciary Committee, Student Council and hundreds of other student-led organizations. Key areas of work include orientation and transfer student programs; student safety; volunteering and service work; military student support; first-generation and low-income student support; multicultural student support; LGBTQ+ student support; and fraternity and sorority life.
“My first assignment is to listen and learn,” Bonner said. “I bring a lot of perspective and experience, but I’m also very cognizant of moving into a new community and reserving my initial thoughts so I can first listen, learn and understand.”
For Bonner, the opportunity to lead UVA students is the reflection of an impressive career where the through line is a deep understanding of what shapes student success, from pre-admissions to life after graduation. He had an early introduction into the importance of student affairs at Washington and Jefferson College, where he was the first in his family to graduate with a degree and also found his way as a Division III basketball player and student leader.
From there, Bonner pursued two graduate degrees in education, Master of Education in rehabilitation counseling from Kent State University and a Doctor of Education in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. His ongoing education, parallel to leading students, reflects a passion for curiosity that he expects to bring into his new job, starting with his first day.
He is especially excited to join UVA at a time when the University, which already has a reputation for a unique life on and around Grounds, is reinvesting more than ever in students.
“The UVA student experience is already very special,” he said. “I’m looking forward to knowing more about the areas of strength, and of course areas where we have an opportunity to improve the way students experience UVA.”