Campus News

Former Saint Leo University President Dies

Dr. Martin Daniel Henry died on Jan. 16, 2014, of liver and kidney complications. He had a long career in higher education administration, and he was president of Saint Leo University from 1985-87.

According to Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, before serving as the president of Saint Leo University, he received a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s in Education from Duquesne University.

He worked in University Administration at the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, LaRoche College in Pittsburgh, Pa., Barry University in Miami, Fla., and the University of Dayton in Ohio. He became president of Saint Leo University when he was only 44 years old.

Although Dr. Henry was not with the University long, faculty from that time still remember him fondly.

“I remember Dr. Henry as a kind, concerned human being, who radiated wonder and enthusiasm.” said Dr. Kurt Van Wilt, Department Chair of English, Fine Arts, and Humanities.

Dr. Henry was well liked by the faculty and students because he was easy to talk to. He treated everyone like an equal, unlike the previous president Dr. Southard. Dr. Jack McTague, Professor of History, quickly noticed how different the two presidents were.

“He really made the faculty feel like he was on our side. When Dr. Southard was here, it was more like an ‘us vs. them’ mentality.”

Dr. Wilt experienced Dr. Henry’s kindness early on.

“The semester before Dr. Henry had arrived, I had asked the former president if those of us who tutored 30 hours and taught three courses could be eligible for health benefits.  The president, who was about to retire, had referred me to Human Resources, where I was told that my four colleagues and I were not eligible. After seeing and hearing Dr. Henry for a few weeks, I decided I would ask him the same question. He agreed, sending us down to Human Resources to enroll. This was a boon, an important gesture, for which I am grateful.”

According to Dr. McTague, Dr. Henry also helped the faculty out by promoting several people almost as soon as he arrived. Unfortunately, the board of trustees did not like that because the faculty would have to be paid more.

According to James J. Horgan, author of Pioneer College: The Centennial History of Saint Leo College, Saint Leo Abbey, and the Holy Name Monastery, Dr. Henry was very active on campus, and he loved going to University events. He even liked acting in school plays.

Dr. Henry wanted to make changes to the University, but he simply was not here long enough to make that many. All he was really able to accomplish was building the archways for the campus entrance.

“He ran into a problem very quickly. The board of trustees was all picked by Dr. Southard, and they were still set in the old way of doing things,” said Dr. McTague.

According to Horgan, in 1986 the board of trustees forced him to take a formal leave, and after failed negotiations between the board and Bishop W. Thomas Larkin, Dr. Henry resigned on Feb. 13, 1987. He later became president of Gannon University in Erie, Pa.

According to Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, after his time in higher education, Dr. Henry worked at non-profit institutions in their development programs, such as the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Rotary International, the American Cancer Society, and Muskego Senior Taxi Program.

He is survived by his wife Aimee Monteverde Henry, children Donna (Will) Launer, Nicholas (Stephanie) Henry, Bryan Henry, and granddaughters Ashleigh, Veronica, Cami, and twin granddaughters due in March.

1 reply »

  1. I met both President Henry and President Southard. I found both leaders very pleasant people. I never before heard that Dr.Southard didn’t treat people like equals.

    Like

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