OCU names judge as next president


Jan and Judge Robert Henry
Jan and Judge Robert Henry

The incoming president of Oklahoma City University was described as "a man of integrity" by Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.

In December, the OCU Board of Trustees announced Robert H. Henry will be the 17th president of the university. He is currently chief judge of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Henry will fill the OCU post in July, succeeding Tom McDaniel, who is retiring.

The private, United Methodist-affiliated university serves 3,700 graduate and undergraduate students. It was founded 105 years ago.

Bishop Hayes served on the 15-member presidential search committee. He said a number of quality candidates from across the nation were considered.

Hayes said Henry has "a great gift of building relationships. It’s a relational job, I think. He is very approachable, articulate, and down-to-earth."

Henry served as dean of the OCU School of Law and a law professor from 1991 to 1994. He is not only knowledgeable about the university but also United Methodism, Hayes said.

The Henrys regularly attend OKC-St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, and he has taught classes there. He has helped plan ecumenical services at the church, as well as the Inaugural Prayer Service for Gov. Brad Henry.

St. Luke’s Pastor Bob Long said, "Robert is one of the most well-read and theologically grounded laypersons I have known."

Hayes said the new president has expressed his strong support of Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. "He will work closely with me and Elaine Robinson, Saint Paul School’s dean," the bishop said, "to make sure the seminary grows stronger. That commitment is on the table. He knows it’s going to be a change agent in the life of OCU for years to come."

Ron Norick, who chaired the search committee, said "In addition to (his) exceptional legal and public service career, he is an acclaimed foreign relations scholar and international humanitarian."

McDaniel said, "Stepping away from a lifetime appointment on the federal bench underscores his commitment to Oklahoma City University."

Jan Henry is an Oklahoma City dentist. The Henrys’ son, Josh, is an OCU theater major; daughter Rachel attends New York University.

Robert Henry has served on the Court of Appeals for 15 years. Prior to his appointment to the court, he was Oklahoma’s attorney general. He also served 10 years in the state House of Representatives. He practiced law in Shawnee for 10 years.

Henry received his bachelor degree and Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma and holds honorary degrees from the University of Tulsa and OCU. He co-authored legislation that established the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. He was inducted into the 2008 Oklahoma Hall of Fame, among numerous other honors.

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