School of Education chooses Azusa resident as new dean

The APU School of Education named Anita Henck, Ph.D., as the new dean after serving as interim dean for six months. As an Azusa resident for six years and 33 years of experience in higher education, Henck looks forward to the many rewards of her new position.


“While I am not working day to day with K-12 students, I keep remembering [that everything we are doing here] has an impact on a child and a family and a community,” Henck said.


One of the programs the school of education offers for the Azusa school district include C.H.A.M.P. (College Headed and Mighty Proud), which brings fourth graders to the APU campus to see what college looks like in case their parents did not go to college.

The school of education also offers free music lessons in the summer with the music academy program, along with other programs, in order to be an example of Christ to our neighbors, Henck said.


“APU has done a really remarkable job of working well with the city of Azusa to be good neighbors,” Henck said. “The school of education in particular has the ability to maintain that strong connection.”


Henck follows her personal convictions to be a “city on a hill” and to let her “light shine.” In turn, she believes APU and the school of education will do the same.


“I think we need to not simply pass through Azusa, but support Azusa,” Henck said.


The School of Education is in partnership with more than 100 school districts in the area, but Henck believes it is important to have a special relationship with the Azusa school district since they are the APU’s immediate neighbors. Hopeful, Henck looks forward to the School of Education being a resource for teachers in the surrounding districts.


“What is fascinating to me is to be able to tell our story of what our impact is [as an institution],” Henck said.


According to EduVentures, a national education research firm, APU’s School of Education is in the top 20 schools nationally in terms of the number of Masters degrees in education it presented from 2003 to 2011. It is the second highest in California.


“If you think about it, there are 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S., which gives a pretty good perspective of what our influence has been and what it can be,” Henck said.


Henck plans to collect the stories of alumni who have gone through APU’s program and to work with existing faculty to focus their research on ways to impact the world of education even more.


“It is enjoyable to be a leader of a program like this — the volume is high,” Henck said. “There were some specific challenges I needed to work with when I first started such as operating on a financial deficit because enrollments were in decline.”


For Henck, it will be gratifying to address these challenges and identify areas of growth to move the program forward. Henck prides herself on her ability to build leadership teams in her past positions at colleges in Boston and Washington, D.C., and she plans to do the same at APU.


Originally coming into the School of Education to help administratively, Henck said she fell in love with the school from the start.


“I guess enough of them liked me,” Henck said with a chuckle. “I know there were a lot of highly qualified applicants, so it was really humbling and surprising to be the only finalist in the national search — partly because I’m not a traditional K-12 person … I’ve always had a balance of sometimes being faculty and research or sometimes being administrator, so being dean gives me a chance to do both.”


Being a dean at a Christian university is different than being a dean at a secular university, Henck said. It is inspiring for Henck when she realizes the students who go through APU’s program have a great impact in secular settings.


“The opportunity this gives feels really remarkable because I get to get to work with people like Jon Wallace and Mark Stanton who are both visionary and committed to this balance between the best of Christian faith and the best of education,” Henck said.