Penn State's Jonathan Kukta appointed president of NACAS East region

photo of Jonathan Kukta

Jonathan Kukta

Credit: Penn State

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. — On June 18, Jonathan Kukta was sworn in as the new president of the National Association of College Auxiliary Services (NACAS) East region. Kukta succeeds Anthony Coschignano, associate vice president for campus services at Swarthmore College, who has been the NACAS East president since 2022.  

Kukta holds dual roles at Penn State, serving as both special assistant to the senior vice president for finance and business/treasurer and director of business services and operations at Penn State Schuylkill.

Kukta said that this accomplishment marks a significant milestone in his longstanding commitment to enhancing higher education environments. In this new role, he looks forward to continuing NACAS's mission to support and innovate campus auxiliary operations and business services crucial to student life. Founded in 1969, NACAS stands as a beacon for professionals dedicated to advancing campus services that are integral components of the student experience in higher education. 

Kukta's journey with NACAS spans more than two decades. He has served in various leadership roles on the board of directors, including membership coordinator, business partner liaison and vice president, providing support to over 210 colleges and universities in the East region, which includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Canada.  

"I've known Jonathan for several years. We joined NACAS at about the same time in our careers. He has always been an ardent supporter of the organization, and I'm thrilled that he will be leading NACAS East into the future as the president,” said Mark R. Ironside, associate vice president for business services at Lehigh University. “I look forward to working with him as treasurer and think he will do a marvelous job engaging the board and serving our membership.” 

In his capacity as special assistant to the senior vice president for finance and business/treasurer, Kukta coordinates training, development, engagement events, DEIB programs, special projects, communication and strategic initiatives for over 5,600 employees within finance and business across multiple campuses. He also serves as the liaison to the associate vice president for finance and business services of the Commonwealth Campuses.  

"Jonathan is a hardworking, dedicated and creative leader,” said Sara Thorndike, senior vice president for finance and business/treasurer. “I am confident he will accomplish great things as the NACAS East president over the next year, collaborating with college and university business and auxiliary leaders to bring forward innovative solutions and ideas at this critical time in higher education. I am grateful for his commitment to professional development, his colleagues, and to both Penn State and NACAS."   

"As someone who works closely with Jonathan, I can attest to his exceptional leadership and dedication. His 20 years of involvement with NACAS, numerous accolades, and proven track record on the board highlight his unwavering commitment," said Carlos Rodriguez, associate vice president for finance and business services at the Commonwealth Campuses. "Jonathan’s appointment is sure to bring outstanding vision and innovation, greatly benefiting NACAS and its mission."  

Within his role as director of business services and operations at Penn State Schuylkill, Kukta oversees campus planning, facilities management, operations, information technology, telecommunications, risk management, sustainability, emergency management, conference services, real estate, fleet/parking, events, community outreach, and local government relations. Additionally, he demonstrates operational oversight as the campus liaison to University Police and Public Safety, Housing and Food Services, and Barnes & Noble. 

"Jonathan brings extensive expertise in campus auxiliaries, facilities, technology and operations,” said Patrick Jones, chancellor of Penn State Schuylkill. “Beyond his impressive knowledge base, his genuine concern for people shines through, making him an exceptional leader. With a proven track record of sound judgment, adept problem-solving skills, and innovative thinking, I have no doubt he will thrive as the NACAS East president in the coming year."  

Kukta said that he steps into his role as president of NACAS with a deep appreciation for the legacy of leadership before him, following in the footsteps of Penn State predecessors such as Kim Berry, retired senior director of business services and operations at Penn State Berks, who served as NACAS East president from 1998 to 1999, and Jim Sterganos, retired chief operating officer at Penn State Berks, who served as NACAS East president from 2002 to 2003.  

"I am honored to join this distinguished group of higher education business professionals as the NACAS East president,” Kukta said. “Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have had exceptional mentors both within the NACAS organization and at Penn State. I am deeply grateful for the education and resources that NACAS provides. Serving in this role for the upcoming year is a humbling privilege, and I am profoundly thankful for this opportunity." 

Kukta's educational background includes an MBA from Alvernia University and a bachelor of science degree in hospitality management from Penn State. He also is a certified auxiliary services professional (CASP), highlighting his commitment to continuous learning and professional development in higher education administration.  

At Penn State, Kukta’s previous awards include the 2011 Finance and Business Quality Service/Quality People Leadership Award, the 2013 Finance and Business Quality Service/Quality People Coaching and Mentoring Award, the 2015 Penn State Hazleton Student Government Association Service to Student Award, the 2017 HFS William H. Reiber Outstanding Management Award, and the 2017 Penn State Schuylkill Outstanding Alum Award, highlighting his exceptional contributions and achievements in higher education administration. In 2020, the NACAS East Board presented Kukta with the association’s Rising Star Award.  

Kukta joined Penn State in 2002. Prior to his current roles, he spent 18 years with Auxiliary & Business Services' Housing and Food Services unit at the Berks, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre campuses. 

Beyond his professional achievements, Kukta is actively engaged in his community, serving on the Orwigsburg Planning and Zoning Board and Schuylkill Haven Unified. His dedication to service and leadership extends beyond his role at Penn State and NACAS, impacting local governance and community enrichment initiatives.  

As Kukta assumes this one-year appointment, he brings a wealth of experience, a visionary outlook and a steadfast commitment to advancing the organization's mission. In his role as NACAS East president, Kukta said he looks forward to fostering innovation, collaboration and inclusivity. His leadership will help promote proactive initiatives that elevate campus services and enhance the overall student experience in higher education.