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Dr. William A. Henk has served as dean of the College of Education and professor of literacy at Marquette University since 2004. Previously he chaired the department of curriculum and instruction at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and for 18 years prior to that appointment, he worked in various capacities at Penn State Harrisburg. Henk joined the faculty at Penn State in 1983 as an assistant professor of education and reading, and became an associate professor in 1989. Full professor rank followed in 1992, and he was named director of the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education later that year. In 2000 he was appointed to the rank of affiliate associate professor of pediatrics in the Penn State College of Medicine at the Hershey Medical Center.
Henk specializes in reading and language studies and has earned a national reputation for his work in assessing reader and writer self-perceptions and for the development of classroom literacy observation instruments. He has published and presented his work extensively and has served on several premier editorial review boards and in numerous leadership roles in national literacy organizations. In recent years, his scholarship has focused on various aspects of the education deanship and that work earned him and his co-authors the 2018 Neuner Award for Excellence in Professional/Scholarly Publication from the American Association of University Administrators.
Henk’s literacy career began at Edinboro University (Pa.) where he earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education English and a master of education degree in reading in 1975 and 1976, respectively. He then served as an elementary school reading specialist in Corry, Pa., before going on to receive his doctorate in reading and educational psychology from West Virginia University in 1982. Upon degree completion, Henk assumed the position of assistant professor of reading education and director of the reading clinic at the University of Georgia.
The Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers recognized Henk with a service award in 2003 and with a lifetime achievement award in 2004. At Penn State Harrisburg, he received institutional awards for both teaching and research, and he was named as an outstanding alumnus of Edinboro University in 2000.
As a dean at Marquette, Henk has successfully led efforts for national accreditation, the designation of his academic unit as the College of Education, and the creation of a new baccalaureate degree and an undergraduate major in educational studies. In addition, he co-founded the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium (GMCEC), helped to establish Teach For America in Milwaukee, directed the feasibility study for a Cristo Rey high school, and launched the popular Marquette Educator blog. His university service has included membership on the University Finance and Planning Review Committee, Student Success Advisory Council, Executive Committee of Academic Senate, Task Force on Shared Governance, Campus Master Planning Committee, and co-chairing the Marquette Community Campaign. His civic engagement includes membership on the Leadership Council of Milwaukee Succeeds, Greater Milwaukee Committee Education Committee, Catholic School Commission, and the board of directors for the Milwaukee Academy of Science, GMCEC, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, and Catholic Memorial High School.