Since he joined the University of Oklahoma faculty in 1967, George Henderson's name has become synonymous with efforts to promote ethnic diversity and interracial understanding on the OU campus and throughout the country. Now, the university is adding to the pioneering professor's many honors by assigning his name to the newly created Henderson Scholars Program.
Henderson recently retired as Dean of the College of Liberal Studies to return to the Department of Human Relations as director of the advanced studies program. He founded OU's Human Relations program and designed its curriculum in 1969 the same year he received the Sylvan N. Goldman Professorship. He holds three additional distinguished professorships at OU: the David Ross Boyd Professorship, the Regents' Professorship of Human Relations, Education and Sociology, and the Kerr-McGee Presidential Professorship.
A trailblazer among African-American university educators, Henderson has been honored throughout the country for his research and writings. The most recent of his 35 books, is "Race and the University: A Memoir", which is an amazing recollection of his time in Norman, OK and the struggles of young students during the University of Oklahoma's own civil rights movement.
A member of the OU faculty since 1967, Henderson and his wife, Barbara, were the first African-American couple to purchase a home in Norman. Their continued dignity and courage in the face of racially motivated hostility during that time won them the admiration of the community and the university. They have worked tirelessly as mentors to African-American students and to foster human rights initiatives in Norman.
Listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who Among Black Americans and Who's Who in the Southwest, Henderson's most recent awards include the 1992 Distinguished Service Award from OU and the University of Oklahoma Association, the 1993 American Association for Higher Education's Black Caucus Award for Outstanding Educational Service, the 1996 C. V. Ramana Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Mental Health of Oklahoma's Children, the 1996 Walter Neustadt Award for Outstanding Service to University of Oklahoma Students, the OU Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association's award as 1997's Outstanding Professor, the 2000 Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Medal for the Outstanding College and University Professor, Henderson was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2003 and was awarded the 2004 Otis Sullivant Perceptivity Award which honors the late Otis Sullivant, a long time journalist.
The University of Oklahoma honored Dr. Henderson with a 2011 honorary doctoral degree in Humane Letters. He was one of five recipients to be recognized at the University Commencement celebration on May 13, 2011. During his 40 year tenure here at the University, Dr. Henderson has continued to contribute to the advancement and success of the University of Oklahoma.