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President Robert Henry Announces Retirement

President Henry
President Robert Henry

Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry has announced his plans to retire effective June 30, 2018.

The university’s 17th president, Henry took the helm at OCU in July 2010. During his tenure, Oklahoma City University moved its School of Law downtown to the historic Central High School building, introduced new academic programs including a Physician Assistant program, and brought a number of nationally renowned speakers to campus, including two Supreme Court justices.

Oklahoma City University Board Chairman Ronald J. Norick said Henry’s careful stewardship placed the institution on sound financial footing and positioned the university for growth and continued success.

“I have had the honor and pleasure to work alongside President Henry for the past seven years and can assure the alumni, faculty and students that the university is ready to meet the future opportunities and challenges of higher education,” Norick said.

Henry, a former Oklahoma legislator and attorney general and chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, plans to focus on several writing and legal projects during a one-year sabbatical, after which he plans to return to the university to teach law and other subjects.

“When I accepted the position of president, I committed to a five-year appointment,” Henry said. “I have tremendously enjoyed my time in this role, and after eight successful years, now is the right time to retire.”

Henry said he and his wife, Jan, have cherished their time with the university and its people.

“We have been privileged to get to know the most talented students and see them pursue their dreams here in Oklahoma, on Broadway, and around the world,” Henry said. “Along with extraordinarily dedicated trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, and especially the students, we have enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate and promote the university’s ideals of scholarship and servant leadership.”

Trustee Martha Burger said Henry’s work with students and the university has been inspiring.

“It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with Robert Henry during his tenure as president,” she said. “His steady hand, sound judgment and love for the students are an inspiration to all of us who have the privilege of working by his side.”

Henry’s lifetime of work on behalf of Oklahoma has resulted in numerous honors and awards. He was named Leadership Oklahoma’s 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, was recognized as OKC Friday’s OKCITYAN of the Year, was named an honorary member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, received the Dalsimer Dean’s Award from the Pepperdine School of Law, earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City for interfaith initiatives, received the Scribes Lifetime Achievement Award for legal writing and received the John and Joy Reed Belt Leadership in Arts and Education Award from Harding Fine Arts Academy. Henry also was inducted into the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Hall of Fame in 2015.

Henry remains very active in the local community, serving on the boards of directors of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Devon Energy, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and OKC Allied Arts. He was very active in the historic water rights settlement agreement between the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations and the City of Oklahoma City and was selected to announce the settlement, after having served on the Citizen Advisory Board for that project. He also serves on several national and international boards including the advisory boards of iCivics, the Ralph Ellison Foundation, and the Tenth Circuit Historical Society. He also served on the Chamber of Commerce’s Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Task Force, and as a board member for the Vera Institute of Justice. A national search process for a new president will begin this summer and a campus wide university search committee will be formed. The committee will include university trustees, tenured faculty, staff and administrators.

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