SRU welcomes founding dean for new College of Health Professions


Old Main and North Hall

Slippery Rock University has hired a founding dean for its new College of Health Professions. SRU will launch its fifth college in fall 2022.

March 1, 2021

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University has hired John Bonaguro as founding dean of the College of Health Professions, effective today, March 1. Bonaguro will serve in an interim capacity as SRU establishes its fifth college starting in the fall 2022 semester.

Earlier this year, SRU announced that it will begin formal planning for a College of Health Professions, which will be largely made up of existing academic departments currently housed within the College of Health, Engineering and Science, the largest of SRU's four colleges.

Bonaguro was the founding dean of Western Kentucky University's College of Health and Human Services in 2003, serving as dean and professor of public health at WKU before retiring in 2016. He's since taken on an interim placement, from 2016-17, at Housatonic Community College as associate dean of continuing and professional education.

"What attracted me to this position is how SRU is student and faculty focused and how enthusiastic and supportive the administration is in establishing this new college," Bonaguro said. "A key to success as a founding dean is having a shared vision among the University's leaders and that's why I'm excited to join SRU."

"We're excited to have John provide his leadership as we form our new college, develop a strategic plan and set ourselves up for success for years to come," said Abbey Zink, SRU provost and vice president for academic affairs. "He brings experience as a founding dean in the health sciences and he's known for his strategic thinking. He's even had his approach to starting a new college published in the Journal of Allied Health. We're impressed by his expertise and look forward to what he has to offer."

John Bonaguro


While at WKU, Bonaguro helped create the Academic Center for Excellence, a college-based student success center that focuses on developmental career advising and retention. He also advanced graduate education at WKU by implementing two doctoral programs in nursing and physical therapy, and he helped raise millions of dollars in major gifts for scholarships and infrastructure.

"I enjoy the type of challenges in working with a brand-new college," Bonaguro said. "It's about coordinating new functions, getting units to work together and helping establish traditions. You need a student and faculty focus to advance the college, but there's also community service and helping employers get the types of employees they need in the workforce. That's an important focus for health professions today, and a new college at SRU will very much help meet those needs throughout the region."

Prior to his role as founding dean at WKU, Bonaguro was the associate dean of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance at Ithaca College in New York, where he worked from 1993-2003. After getting his start as a public-school teacher in his native Chicago in the mid-1970s, Bonaguro was a professor of health and sport science at Ohio University.

Bonaguro earned his Ph.D. in health education from the University of Oregon, and master's and bachelor's degrees from Southern Illinois University in health education and biological sciences, respectively.

Bonaguro and his wife, Ellen, who is also retired after a career in higher education, are residents of Bowling Green, Kentucky. They plan to relocate to the Slippery Rock area.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854  |