New Associate Dean of Students Announced: Meet Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey

Bonnie Candia-Bailey, Associate Dean, Division of Student Life

After a vigorous interview process, the new associate dean of students has finally been announced. Welcome to UW-Madison, Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey!

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Candia-Bailey was bound the return to the Midwest. Having 23 years of experience working in the field of student life, Candia-Bailey is ready to take on this new position and be closer to home. Her first day on campus is August 6.

In her free time, she loves to spend time with her husband, Anthony Bailey, and their seven-year-old Yorkie-Poo Max. She is passionate about identity development, self-esteem in women (particularly African- American women), travel, and riding motorcycles.

Candia-Bailey believes this new position, which was held by Kevin Helmkamp since 2006, aligns with her goals of being challenged in a position that will allow her to grow professionally, while enhancing and promoting a community of inclusive excellence.

We recently talked to the new associate dean of students to get to know and introduce her to the UW-Madison community:

Student Life: What are you most looking forward to working as the associate dean of students within the Division of Student Life at UW-Madison?

Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey: I’m excited to join the Badger Family!  I look forward to helping move the Division of Student Life forward in a positive direction that will benefit everyone we serve.  I want to ensure I represent the student population and have a presence when diversity-related concerns arise on campus, which affect students, faculty, and staff.

The associate dean position will also enhance my professional growth and development. I am looking forward to making a difference on campus through personal and professional interactions with faculty, staff, and students.

SL: What will be the most challenging part of transitioning to a new university? What are you most exciting about? 

Candia-Bailey: The biggest challenge will be transitioning to the new environment of UW-Madison. I will need to observe and learn the politics/culture of the university.  I also have to adjust to working in a large de-centralized system. Building relationships while getting the work done are critical, and it is vital to delivering results.

I am excited to have the ability to apply my efficient and robust leadership skills. I want to support the new leadership and vision of the division moving forward.  The Division of Student Life has a positive and adaptive culture. We have the opportunity to be innovative, and this is an ideal time to examine opportunities to expand. Finally, a healthy level of respect and trust is critical and exciting as I develop relationships. It is important to me that my coworkers can respect and trust me just as I can respect and trust my coworkers.

SL: What is your hope for UW-Madison students as they explore/live out their Wisconsin Experience during their time on campus?

Candia-Bailey: My hope for the UW-Madison students is that the Division of Student Life creates a dwelling that fosters creativity, learning, and enhances development.  I look forward to being visible and getting to know the students.  I want to be a resource and strategically use my voice to advocate and support the students.

SL: At the Division of Student Life, we help our students connect their passion with their purpose. What does that mean to you?

Candia-Bailey: Acknowledging and accepting our purpose enhances our passion, which shapes our existence, fuels the fires of inspiration, and opens us up the opportunities and changes life offers. I will challenge the students to imagine what living a life filled with passion is like, dare to imagine the endless possibilities, and dare to actually search for what you love. Remember with confidence, acknowledgment, and desire, anything is possible!

SL: What do you want your legacy to be both professionally and personally?

Candia-Bailey: This is the legacy I try to leave daily (personally and professionally).

My motto in life is:

“If I can help somebody, as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song,
If I can show somebody, that he’s traveling wrong,
Then my living shall not be in vain.”