Dr. Charles Bonjean, Former Austin Resident, Retired Educator and Previous Executive Director of the Hogg Foundation, Dies at 72
February 20, 2008
Dr. Charles "Chuck" Bonjean, 72, a long-time Austin resident, retired sociology professor and third executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, died Feb. 20 in Florida of natural causes. He moved from Austin to Florida in December 2007 to be near family.
Bonjean was a noted philanthropist, educator and administrator whose career spanned more than 40 years with The University of Texas at Austin. He also was a talented pianist and jazz devotee who enjoyed playing music with friends.
"Chuck was a marvelous friend and colleague and will be greatly missed by us all," said Dr. Sheldon Ekland-Olson, a faculty member with the university's Department of Sociology and former executive vice president and provost of the university.
Bonjean first came to the university in 1963 as an assistant professor with the Department of Sociology, later holding positions as associate professor and full professor. He was chair of the department from 1972 until 1974 when he was appointed Hogg Professor of Sociology, a position he held until he retired in 2002.
As a sociologist, Bonjean's academic interests encompassed formal organizations, evaluation research and mental health. He was a prolific researcher, writer and editor whose name appeared as author, co-author or contributor to more than 65 books, articles, chapters and book reviews. He also served as editor for a number of academic and professional journals and publications.
"Dr. Bonjean was a valuable asset to the university, the state of Texas and the nation and provided excellent leadership in mental health activities. He was a highly respected, excellent leader who did a superb job. He will truly be missed by all who knew him," said Dr. James L. Hill, senior vice president of the university.
In addition to his role as an educator, Bonjean joined the Hogg Foundation in 1974 as executive associate and was promoted to vice president in 1979. He served as the foundation's executive director from 1993 until 2002, and was only the third person to hold that position since the foundation's inception in 1940.
"Chuck Bonjean was an administrator with exceptional personal qualities. He truly cared about people with mental illness and the conditions of their lives, and he looked for innovative ways that philanthropy could make a difference," said Dr. King Davis, current executive director of the Hogg Foundation and a professor in the university's School of Social Work.
The foundation was created by Miss Ima Hogg, daughter of former Texas Governor James Hogg, to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. During Bonjean's term as executive director, he refined the foundation's focus by developing three primary program areas and establishing the foundation as a leader in philanthropic convening and collaboration.
"People in the mental health community throughout Texas share wonderful stories about his kindness, concern, contributions, and support. He was a dear friend to so many people throughout the state and the nation," Davis added. "His storied life in philanthropy remains a model not only for the Hogg Foundation but for many others. I enjoyed the abbreviated time that our paths crossed and will miss his caring and wise counsel."
Bonjean served on boards and committees of numerous national, state and local philanthropic and professional organizations, including the Council on Foundations, Grantmakers in Health, the Center for Nonprofit Organization Management, Grantmakers Evaluation Network, American Sociological Foundation, Southwestern Social Science Association, Conference of Southwest Foundations, Mental Health Association of Texas, Texas Grantmakers in Health and Human Services, Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Mental Health Association of Greater Houston, and the Greater Houston Collaborative for Children.
At the university, Bonjean served on the Faculty Senate, the University Council, the University Public Lectures Committee, the University Research Institute and the Publications Policies Committee. He also was a consultant and advisor to the university's Department of Journalism, School of Nursing and School of Social Work.
His honorary affiliations included Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Tau Alpha and Sigma Delta Chi. He received numerous awards, including the Sigma Delta Chi Scholarship Award in 1957, The University of Texas Students' Association Teaching Excellence Award in 1965, the Drake University Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1979, the Association of Junior Leagues' Award for Voluntary Association Organizational Self-Assessment in 1983, and the Southwestern Social Science Association's Outstanding Service Award twice, in 1984 and 1991.
Bonjean received a doctorate in sociology from the University of North Carolina, a master's degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina, and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Drake University.
Bonjean is survived by a brother, Spence Bonjean of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.; a sister, Sandra Bonjean Crouse of Huntsville, Ala.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Those wishing to commemorate Bonjean may make a memorial contribution in his honor to the charity of their choice.