Bonner, Kenyon R.

Kenyon BonnerUniversity of Pittsburgh
Director of Student Life
CLASS OF 1994

Kenyon Bonner is a man of great ambition. This ambition helped propel him from associate director of residence life at the University of Pittsburgh to director of student life in less than one year. For Bonner, the transition meant a heavier workload, but more importantly, it meant more extensive involvement with the student body. “Higher education has been the best experience of my life,” he says. “Working with college students allows me to constantly engage with the best and brightest young minds.”

During his own college days at Washington & Jefferson, Bonner was undoubtedly one of W&J’s “best and brightest.” While juggling dual majors of psychology and philosophy, Bonner played basketball and served as the first president of the Black Student Union. In addition to creating a lasting legacy for African-American students at W&J, Bonner is especially proud of the historic moments he experienced as a member of the W&J basketball team. “Our team won the PAC championship three years in a row,” he recalls. “We overcame a lot of obstacles and received an invitation to the NCAA tournament, where we advanced to the elite eight.”

Bonner’s next obstacle did not present itself on the basketball court, but rather at the outset of his promising career. As graduation approached, Bonner toyed with ideas ranging from joining the Secret Service to entering pharmaceutical sales, but Drs. Crabtree and Schrader, along with his parents, eventually convinced him to enroll in graduate school. Following their advice, Bonner earned his master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling at Kent State University. There he also began his career in higher education as a graduate assistant.

W&J remains a large part of Bonner’s life. He often drives through Washington, Pennsylvania, and takes impromptu walks around campus to become reacquainted with his alma mater. However, Bonner hopes that he will one day return to W&J in a more formal capacity. “My ultimate goal is to return to W&J and become president,” he says. “Maybe when I get gray hair.”