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St. John’s University mourns the loss of Tony H. Bonaparte, Ph.D., Provost Emeritus

Monday, April 28, 2014

With great sorrow, St. John’s University mourns the loss of Tony H. Bonaparte, Ph.D., Provost Emeritus, who died on April 26 in Tampa, FL. He had been ill for several years. As a prominent and beloved member of the University community, Tony lived the St. John’s mission and worked to instill both a commitment to academic excellence and a dedication to serving the needs of others into the lives of all whom he touched.  

A double alumnus of St. John’s he received his B.B.A. and M.B.A. degrees from the College of Business Administration before earning his Ph.D. from New York University. He began his career in higher education at St. John’s, serving, from 1964 to 1968, as a faculty member in the very academic unit from which he had graduated. He left to accept a post at Pace University as Associate Professor of International Business. He became Dean of the Graduate School of Business, Dean of the Lubin Schools of Business and Vice President for Corporate and International Programs at Pace. He left in 1985 and subsequently served as Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost at Bentley College in Massachusetts and as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost at Western International University in Arizona. An accomplished scholar, he published widely in the area of environmental influences on business and co-edited a book on the contributions made by his mentor, the famed Peter Drucker, to business enterprise.

He came home to St. John’s in 1993 and dedicated himself to fostering academic success at his alma mater. His record was unparalleled. He undertook improvements in the quality of academic programs and faculty, with 33 new degree and certificate programs added and 237 tenure-track faculty hired during the six years that he served as Provost. In addition, he nurtured St. John’s evolution as an international university, with extensive Study Abroad programs, the Graduate Center in Rome, a Center for Global Education, and a Committee for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.  He also served as a key architect of the University’s first Strategic Plan, which was developed with input from the entire St. John’s community. And he was an ardent supporter of diversity, with a strong belief in its ability to enrich the classroom experience. When he left the position of Provost in 1999, he was named Provost Emeritus and appointed Special Assistant to the President, the position from which he retired in 2010. In this role, he chaired the President’s Multicultural Advisory Committee and the Community Business Development Advisory Board and also founded the University’s Retirees’ Association. He was cherished by the University community for his great collegiality, his graciousness and personal warmth, his compassion for all whom he met, and his commitment, always, to enhancing St. John’s.

Tony shared his broad knowledge of higher education and his great leadership skills with numerous professional organizations. He served on the boards of the AACSB - the International Association for Management Education; the Fulbright Association for International Education and Cultural Exchange; and St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, New York. He was a member or chair of over 30 accreditation and evaluation teams for both regional and professional accrediting agencies. 

He was active in charitable and community service activities as well, serving as a member of the Board of St. Francis Hospital, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and St. Christopher Ottile Services for Children and Families.

St. John’s University gave tribute to this extraordinary man by presenting him with the Pietas Medal in 1994 and the President’s Medal in 1999 and inducting him into the Heritage Circle in 2004. He also received the Spirit of St. John’s Award as an honoree at the Black Alumni Reunion. On the occasion of his retirement from the University, St. John’s presented him with the Medal of Honor, the highest recognition that can be given to an alumnus.

St. John’s is a stronger and better University because of all that he was and did. We mourn his passing but are grateful to God for allowing Tony Bonaparte to share his many gifts and his indomitable spirit with us. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sueli, and the other members of his family at this sad time.

Information on Dr. Bonaparte’s funeral arrangements is available here.