Beloved doctoral faculty member Dr. James Henderson passed away in February after a brief illness. He was known for his keen intellect, passion for students, and leadership skills.
Students found him to be a compassionate professor who changed lives. Mollie Miller, a UI&U Ph.D. student, reflected on Dr. Henderson’s influence. “My very first interaction with Dr. Henderson transformed my whole outlook on education. At my first doctoral class meeting, he invited the group to share our own personal stories or struggles with education. After I shared my challenges, Dr. Henderson said to me, ‘What a shame that such injustice had to occur in order for you to be here today, but always remember that you overcame those obstacles and persevered to be the strong and motivated individual you are today.’ Those words stayed with me as I made my way through the doctoral program. Always the positive thinker, he never hesitated to provide words of support and encouragement. His passion, expertise, compassion, intelligence, and mentorship are characteristics and values we should all try to emulate in our lives. It was a privilege to have been able to learn and grow from someone so talented, and who possessed such empathy and expertise in the fields of education and leadership. I am and always will be grateful for his guidance.”
His friendship was valued by many. “I valued his advice. To me he was a savant, a very wise man. I considered him to be the epitome of a faculty member in an interdisciplinary program. Yet, he was grounded and was a spiritual person. He had great respect for others, especially his wife and mother. I admired those qualities very much,” said Dr. Nelson Soto, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Arlene Sacks, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, remembers Dr. Henderson noting, “Jim Henderson was the absolute example of a gentleman and a scholar. A strong, wise, and passionate leader, Jim was a great mentor to students and colleagues. He contributed a great deal to the field of education and had a positive impact on all of those who knew him. Jim was not only a true advocate for social justice; Jim actualized this philosophy in everything upon which he embarked.”
President Roger Sublett reflected on the contribution Dr. Henderson made to Union over the years. “Our community has lost a dear and valued colleague, and I have lost a dear and trusted friend. I am grateful that we were able to attract Jim to join us at Union and that we were lucky enough to watch him and learn from him as he used his many talents, deep intellect and vast experience to guide so many of our students and direct the dissertations of many Ed.D. and Ph.D. candidates. Among his many contributions, he served as chair of the Faculty Council and recently served as co-chair for Criterion Five of our Higher Learning Commission Assurance Argument. His contributions are many and his impact far-reaching. He will be deeply missed by all.”
Dr. Henderson was the recipient of many awards over his distinguished career including the Duquesne University President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the Mission of the University and the Rutgers University Distinguished Service Award. He was also a W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Fellow.
Dr. Henderson’s memorial service will be held in Pittsburgh, PA on June 9, 2017 at the Duquesne University Chapel. You may read more about Dr. Henderson and his remarkable life in his obituary at this link.