The library at Big Bend Community College (BBCC) will be named in honor of Bill Bonaudi EdD ’93 during a ceremony set for February 17, 2014, according to college officials.
BBCC Trustees approved a motion on Sept. 12 naming the building the William C. Bonaudi Library in honor of the college’s longest-serving president. Bonaudi retired in 2012 after 17 years at Big Bend.
He served more than twice as long as any previous BBCC president (one-third of its first 50 years) and led BBCC into the 21st Century after being hired in 1995.
“In my 46 years with community colleges, the most special reward I received was seeing the light go on in a student’s eye when he or she understood the concept I was teaching,” said Bonaudi. “Now, this honor of naming the library for me personally ranks right up there with student learning.”
Bonaudi provided the vision and led the fundraising efforts for completing the Grant County Advanced Technologies Education Center (ATEC), which includes the library.
The library was the first new building built entirely with state funds in BBCC’s history. The remainder of ATEC was built with major gifts from local donors and local funds.
ATEC changed the education experience for students when the doors opened in 2005, giving them access to a new library, Masto Conference Center, Paul Lauzier University Center, REC Silicon distance education classrooms and dining commons.
The appearance of BBCC’s campus changed dramatically during Bonaudi’s tenure. In addition to ATEC, the college constructed the Paul Hirai Fine Arts Building in 2008, opened a new daycare center in 2003, and completed the $1.3 million College Parkway road system inside the campus in 2003. The college also received $1.3 million to expand and remodel the Flight Center for BBCC’s flagship Commercial Pilot Program.
ATEC’s opening caused a chain reaction on campus as vacated facilities were remodeled for other BBCC programs. The former library was remodeled for the Nursing Program, more than doubling its previous space and allowing the program to expand. The former Snack Bar became home to an expanded and remodeled Bookstore. The former dining area and kitchen in Smith Hall was remodeled for the Computer Science Program.
Bonaudi and the BBCC Foundation focused on expanding the nursing program in 2005, raising $116,500 to buy SimMan and SimBaby patient simulators, increasing scholarships for nursing students, and setting up a fund to help nursing instructors pay for master’s degree credits.
New programs started during Bonaudi’s presidency include Industrial Electrical Technology, Mechanized Irrigation Systems Technology, Maintenance Mechanics Technology, Medical Assistant, Commercial Drivers’ License and I-BEST.
One of Bonaudi’s goals was to provide more bachelor’s degree opportunities on BBCC’s campus so local students did not have to relocate or commute long distance to earn advanced degrees. Today, Heritage University, Central Washington University and Whitworth University offer bachelor’s degree programs in the Paul Lauzier University Center.
Bonaudi was known for wearing a tuxedo at the four annual special events he started at BBCC. He garnered support for BBCC with Star Night to recognize scholarship donors and recipients; State of the College to provide an annual report to the community; Cellarbration! For Education to raise money for scholarships; and Winter Serenadeto fundraise for ATEC technology improvements.
After years of steady enrollment growth, Bonaudi had to deal with a 27 percent reduction in state funding during his last four years at BBCC. College trustees declared the college’s first financial emergency in 32 years in 2012, and the college eventually lost 25 positions. His efforts to avoid layoffs were successful. The reductions were all made through attrition such as retirements, resignations, and unfilled positions.
Leaders shine during difficult times. Bonaudi found ways to keep the college moving in important directions despite the gloomy financial situation. The college was awarded new grants, including a $3.2 million Title V grant in 2010 to increase academic attainment for Hispanic students. The college received a $4.4 million STEM grant (science, technology, engineering and math) the following year, creating engineering degree pathways for students. The grants helped the college improve the Student Success Center and STEM Center facilities.
BBCC also received a $1.8 million aerospace grant from the Department of Labor to increase capacity of the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program.
A gracious host on behalf of the college and its partners, Bonaudi opened his home to the community, hosting many events and receptions, making friends for the college and instilling a family atmosphere. Bonaudi donated generously to the BBCC Foundation. He is the founder of Bonaudi Family Scholarship Fund, which started as a memorial to his mother Dorothy.